Spain’s General Election on Sunday could mark a significant shift to the populist right, bringing an end to five years under a left-wing government. The frontrunner in polls is the Popular Party (PP), although it may require the support of the far-right Vox party to form a government. If a coalition between the PP and Vox is established, it would be the first time a far-right force enters the Spanish government since the country’s transition to democracy in 1975.
Vox’s manifesto closely aligns with that of the Franco regime, supporting a highly centralized government and opposing abortion rights, climate change action, and government efforts to combat gender violence. This potential rightward shift in Spain mirrors similar trends in fellow EU member states such as Sweden, Finland, and Italy. The concerns raised primarily pertain to immigration and climate policies.
The central debate surrounding the election revolves around Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s credibility and his coalition with Unidas Podemos. The opposition accuses him of being a liar due to his U-turns on key issues. A particular setback for the Socialist-Podemos coalition was a mishandling of a sexual consent law, which inadvertently allowed convicted sex offenders to have their sentences reduced. This misstep has provided ammunition for right-wing parties and media outlets.
The combination of anti-Sánchez sentiment and fears of Vox entering government have prompted some Socialist voters to switch their allegiance to the PP. However, the left-wing coalition may face competition from Sumar, a new movement of small left-wing parties led by labor minister Yolanda Díaz. Sumar could potentially lend support to the Socialists, assisting them in forming another coalition government.
Despite the election occurring during the summer vacation period, there has been a significant surge in requests for postal voting, indicating an estimated 70% voter turnout. Spaniards are showing a strong interest in shaping the future direction of their country in this pivotal election.
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