What do the Spanish election results mean?

With almost all the votes counted, we can say with certainty that the next government will be led by the Socialists in what will be claimed as a huge victory for Pedro Sanchez.

What do the Spanish election results mean?
Celebrations outside PSOE headquarters as the results come in. Photo: AFP

Left-wing alliance

The PSOE – which hadn’t won the biggest share of the vote in a general election since 2008 when Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero won a second term – could now form a government with the support of Podemos and the help of smaller regional parties including the PNV – Basque Nationalists, which are both natural allies.


Number of seats for each party with 93.66 percent of the vote counted. 

No need to court Catalan vote

In contrast to initial predictions, the results show that the PSOE may be able to govern without support of the Catalan regional parties – removing a thorn in the side of Pedro Sanchez.

Remember, Pedro Sanchez won the confidence vote that ousted Mariano Rajoy thanks to the support from Catalan separatist groupings, but they ultimately provoked the need for early elections after failing to support the last budget in anger at the trial of their separatists leaders in Madrid.

Governing without the need of support from Catalan separatists will remove a major headache for the PM.


There is also the option of a strong centrist alliance if Ciudadanos chose to support Pedro Sanchez as PM. Although Albert Rivera spoke during the campaign of partnering with the PP, and emphasized the need to “chase the socialists from power”,  a possible alliance between the two may yet be possible.

Far-right enters parliament

For the first time since Spain’s transition to democracy, seats have been won by a political party with a far-tight agenda. Vox have burst onto the political scene and looked set to win 24 votes.

Their presence has served to fracture the right wing vote and can be largely blamed for devastating support for the Popular Party.

It marks a meteoric rise for a party with less than 1 percent of the vote in the last general election to over 10 percent, largely due to its ultra-nationalist rhetoric that advocates the “defence of the Spanish nation to the end” and a hard line against separatists in Catalonia.

But, it’s a hollow victory as they won’t be the anticipated king-maker they hoped to be, propping up a right-wing coalition government.

Drubbing of the PP

The big losers of the night are the conservative Popular Party and it's 38-year-old leader Pablo Casado, who stepped into the shoes of ousted Martiano Rajoy. Will he resign over the result? 

READ MORE: Why has Spain's longstanding right-wing party lost so many votes?

Democracy wins

The turnout was a whopping 75 percent, bigger than ever registered before and a clear 8 points up on the last election in June 2016. Commentators remarked that the high turnout was due in part to the mobilization of voters on the left to limit the impact of Vox. 

READ ALSO: Results: Victory for Socialists but need to support to govern

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Madrid puts off separatist talks over Catalan snap election

Spain's central government on Thursday said the announcement of snap elections in Catalonia would delay planned talks between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the region's separatist leadership.

Madrid puts off separatist talks over Catalan snap election
Catalan regional president Quim Torra (R) meets with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the Palacio de Pedralbes in Barcelona on December 20, 2018.Photo: AFP

News that the regional election would be brought forward was announced by regional president Quim Torra on Wednesday but he did not give a date, suggesting some time after mid-March.

The date was brought forward following a major dispute between Catalonia's two ruling separatist parties, Together for Catalonia (JxC) and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC).

The announcement came ahead of a key February 6 meeting in Barcelona between Torra and Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to lay the ground for talks on resolving the separatist conflict.

In response, Sanchez's office said the meeting would go ahead but that the negotiations would not begin until a new regional government was in place.   

“The government is hoping to be able to begin the dialogue after the Catalan people have spoken… as soon as the elections are over and there is a new (regional) government, then we will begin talking,” said a statement.

“The government remains willing to start the process of dialogue with the Catalan institutions to resolve the political conflict.”

The talks had been agreed as part of a deal with ERC in exchange for its support in getting Sanchez through a key investiture vote earlier this month.   

But the delay was swiftly denounced by the ERC as a “flagrant breach of the agreement which was completely irresponsible,” its party spokesman Sergi Sabria said.

Sanchez, who himself is in a fragile position at the head of a minority coalition government, still needs ERC's support to pass Spain's own much delayed national budget.

In a radio interview Thursday, Torra said he would bring up the right to self-determination and amnesty for the nine jailed Catalan separatist leaders when he meets Sanchez — both of which have already been rejected out of hand by the Socialist leader.