DUBLIN: Spain likely faces a period of political uncertainty following national polls at the end of this month with parties both to the left and right falling short of an overall majority, the latest opinion polls suggest.
But the outgoing Socialists, led by Pedro Sanchez who called the general election for April 28 following the defeat of his minority government’s budget in February, do have a slight edge.
Pollsters suggest that the Socialists have around 27 per cent of the vote — enough to win 122 seats in the 350-seal lower Chamber of Deputies.
Those same polls give Podemos enough support to claim 40 seats — putting the left-leaning bloc at 162 seats — close to the 176 seats for an overall majority, but short enough to lead to a period of political jockeying.
On the right, it’s the same story.
Polls give the conservative People’s Party (PP) along with Ciudadanos and the far-right anti-immigrant Vox roughly 162 votes too — a dead heat, ensuring that both blocs will be courting the regional parties for support.
Deputies from the Basque regional party and Catalonian lawmakers initially backed Sanchez to topple former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his PP government in a confidence motion last June, and their new deputies will be key to forming the next government.
Catalan separatists will also be key critical when it comes to deciding who will be the next Prime Minister. But with elements of their political leaders facing a sedition trial and with Sanchez unwilling to give ground on the case for Catalan independence or for greater powers to the region, the separatists will be loathe to support a centre-right coalition that includes the PP — who were responsible for declaring the October 2017 referendum illegal, and taking tough measures to prevent that vote from happening.
Polls put PP support at 19.3 per cent, Ciudadanos at 17.7 per cent, and Vox at 10.2 per cent. Podemos support is hovering at the 12.3 per cent level, polls show.