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Reuters: Spain's Socialist leader says will form pro-European government

Reuters: Spain's Socialist leader says will form pro-European government

29 April 2019 | 04:15 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. Spain’s Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday he would seek to form a pro-European government and his only condition for forming a government would be respecting the Constitution and promoting social justice, Reuters reports.

Sanchez, whose party won the most votes but no parliamentary majority, told supporters he would put up no “safety cordon” in talks to form a government, a common expression used in the campaign to show one party refused to make a deal with another.
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NYT: Spain election - socialist gains amid growing polarization

NYT: Spain election - socialist gains amid growing polarization

29 April 2019 | 01:42 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. Spain’s governing Socialist Party strengthened its hold on Sunday in the country’s third national election since 2015, with nearly complete results suggesting a growing political polarization and party fragmentation, The New York Times reports.

The elections came after an abrupt change of government in June, when Pedro Sánchez and his Socialist Party used a corruption scandal to oust Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party in a parliamentary vote.

Late Sunday, with nearly all votes counted, Mr. Sánchez and the Socialists were on course to win the election by a clear margin but probably fall short of an absolute majority in the national Parliament. That would strengthen Mr. Sánchez’s position, but still force him to find coalition partners to form a government.

Late Sunday, Isabel Celaá, the spokeswoman for the Spanish government, declared that her Socialist party had won the election with almost seven million votes. That translates to about 122 lawmakers, based on provisional results.
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Reuters: Spain heads for fragmented parliament after tense election

Reuters: Spain heads for fragmented parliament after tense election

28 April 2019 | 23:44 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. Early voting data in Spanish elections on Sunday pointed to a hung parliament, though with the left-wing parties carving out a lead over a right wing bloc split by the emergence of nationalists Vox, Reuters reports.

The Socialists of outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took the lead but their share of the vote was far from a parliamentary majority, raising the likelihood of months of talks in a bitterly divided parliament to form a government.

Spaniards cast their votes in numbers close to record highs in the country’s most highly-contested election for decades, set to hand the far-right a sizeable presence in parliament for the first time since the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in the 1970s.

“Vox is without a doubt one of the big winners of the night,” Narciso Michavila, the head of GAD3 pollsters, said on national television.

In an election dominated by cultural values and national identity rather than the economy, Vox’s campaign was marked by passionate reference to Spain’s history, customs and survival as a nation.
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AFP: Spain set for election marked by far-right resurgence

AFP: Spain set for election marked by far-right resurgence

28 April 2019 | 10:00 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. Spain returns to the polls on Sunday for uncertain snap elections marked by a resurgence of the far-right after more than four decades on the outer margins of politics, reported AFP.

Opinion polls give outgoing socialist premier Pedro Sanchez a win but without the necessary majority to govern alone, meaning he will have to seek alliances in a political environment that has soured since Catalonia's failed secession bid.

By far the novelty of these elections is the emergence of far-right party Vox, which burst onto the scene in December regional polls in southern Andalusia and looks set to make its first-ever entrance into the national parliament.

Polls predict it could take more than 10 percent of the votes in a country that had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, in what is likely to cause further concern in Europe.

Opening at 9:00 am (0700 GMT), polling stations will close at 8:00 pm local time (1800 GMT) with results announced later Sunday.

- Far-right surge -
Sanchez, who took power in June after ousting conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote, has warned against Spain replicating what happened in Finland's elections two weeks ago.

There, the far-right Finns Party came second, closely tailing the leftist Social Democrats, after polls initially predicted it would end up in fifth position.

In Spain, polls also forecast that Vox, with its ultra-nationalist rhetoric that advocates the "defence of the Spanish nation to the end," will come in fifth place.

But analysts believe it could do better, saying there may be many "hidden" Vox supporters who lie when asked by pollsters who they will be voting for.

"There is a real, true risk," Sanchez warned this week, fearing that a right-wing government supported by Vox emerges in Spain after the elections, even if opinion polls say this is unlikely.

- Catalonia shadow -
Founded by a former member of the conservative Popular Party (PP), with a strong stance against feminism and illegal immigration, Vox has risen thanks to its hard line against separatists in Catalonia.

The region in northeastern Spain was the scene of a secession attempt in 2017 that sparked the country's biggest crisis in decades and caused major concern in Europe.

Since then, the crisis has continued to cast a pall over Spanish politics.

Sanchez was forced to call Sunday's early elections after Catalan pro-independence lawmakers in the national parliament, angered at the trial of their leaders in Madrid, refused to give him the support he needed for his 2019 budget.

Right-wing parties have for their part lambasted Sanchez, at the head of a minority government, for his attempts to negotiate with Catalan separatists who still govern the region, accusing him of being a traitor.

- Chronic instability? -
With no party expected to get anywhere near an absolute majority in what will be the third elections in three-and-a-half years, Spain's fragmented political landscape looks set to continue.

If, as opinion polls predict, Sanchez wins without a majority, he will have to forge alliances with far-left Podemos -- as he did over the past 10 months -- but also possibly smaller groupings like Catalan separatist parties.

He would rather not have to do that, though, given right-wing parties' accusations that he cosied up with the "enemies of Spain" during his time in government.

A possible alliance with Ciudadanos has not been ruled out, even if the centre-right party's leader Albert Rivera has made "chasing" the socialists from power a "national urgency."
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