What you need to know about Spain’s ‘Super Sunday’ results

The Socialists won big in the EU vote and came first in 10 of 12 regions that went to the polls. But they failed to win Madrid. And it's all change in Madrid and Barcelona.

What you need to know about Spain's 'Super Sunday' results
Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya candidate for Barcelona's mayoralty, Ernest Maragall (L), celebrates the electoral results with his wife at the Barcelona Nord bus station. Photo: AFP

Consolidated power for Pedro Sanchez.

On the domestic front, the Socialists did well in local and regional elections. They came first in 10 of the 12 regions that went to the polls.   

That is a leap from the last regional elections in 2015 when they only won two of the regions, even if they lack the absolute majority in most areas and will have to form alliances to govern.   

This is good news for Pedro Sanchez who is in an even stronger position when negotiating to form a government, after the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) won the most votes in the general election on April 28th but failed to win a majority. 

“The PSOE, after the results on April 28th, has been confirmed as the biggest political force by far in Spain's political system,” Sanchez said.   

The PSOE won 29.26 percent of the vote in municpal elections nationally, compared to 22.23 percent for the PP.


Socialists have increased hold on municpalities as seen in provinces map of Spain, 2019 compared with 2015. DATA: Ministry of Interior


So what does that mean going forward? 

Sanchez's preferred plan is to form a minority government with the support of other parties on a case-by-case basis when passing laws.   

But while Sanchez wants to rule alone, Pablo Iglesias, the leader of far-left party Podemos, is pushing him to form a coalition.   

But with Podemos having performed badly in the local and regional polls, Iglesias may not have enough weight to pressure Sanchez into accepting this.   


Socialists miss out on Madrid prize

It was predicted that, for the first time in over 20 years, the Conservatives might lose their stronghold of Madrid and that the a left grouping led by the Socialists with support from Podemos and Mas Madrid could win enough to secure a majority. But that didn't quite happen. 

The Socialists won the largest share with 37 seats but even with Mas Madrid's 20 seats and Podemos's seven, a coalition of the left would still fall short of the magic 67 seats needed to form a majority in the regional chamber. 

The People's Party (PP) won 30 seats, a huge drop on the 48 last time round, but the support of Ciudadanos with 20 seats and the far right VOX with 12 secures 68 votes for the grouping.  

This was a boon for the PP, which suffered disastrous results at the general elections, and gave leader Pablo Casado a reason to celebrate. 

Pablo Casado (C), celebrates the election results with PP candidate to Madrid's regional government Isabel Diaz Ayuso (L) and PP candidate to Madrid's mayoralty Jose Luis Martinez Almeida . Photo: AFP 

If the PP had lost Madrid it might have been difficult for Casado to cling on power as leader of the party. 

“There is only one PP, and the Spanish people have decided to vote for the original,” proclaimed a euphoric Casado at PP headquarters in Madrid when results came in.

“We are the big party in Spain. The PP will be here for decades.”

Madrid City Hall bounces back to the right

Madrid will once again have a conservative mayor after right-wing parties together won the majority of the vote. As in the regional parliament of the Community of Madrid, City Hall will now be run by the PP in a pact formed with Ciudadanos and Vox.

Mayor Manuela Carmena, a 75 year-old grandmother and retired judge who swooped to power on the back of the indignado movement in May 2015, conceded defeat on Sunday despite leading the party with the biggest share of the vote. 

Madrid Mas won just 19 seats, so even with the support of the PSOE and their eight seats would still fall short of the 29 needed to form a majority on the council. 

The new mayor will be José Luis Martínez Almeida of the Popular Party.

All change in Barcelona as Ada Colau just loses out to separatists

Ada Colau missed out on a second term as Barcelona mayor. Photo: AFP

Ada Colau, a former housing activist who became mayor of Barcelona in May 2015, also lost out. She was pipped to the post by Ernest Maragall, a veteran politician from the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) which wants Catalonia to breakaway from Spain. 

Both Colau's Barcelona en Comú party and ERC won 10 seats each on the 41.strong council but Maragall beat her by just under 5,000 votes, which gives him first shot at forming a council 

France's former prime minister Manuel Valls meanwhile lost his bet to become mayor of the Mediterranean seaside city in Catalonia, coming in fourth with just over 13 percent of the vote.

READ MORE:  Catalan separatists leaders (one in jail and one in exile) win seats in EU parliament

Vox contnues to grow

Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox, casting his vote on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Although the share of the vote that went to Vox dropped in the EU elections when compared to the general election last month – from 10 percent to just over 6 percent, giving them just three seats – the party did very well on a regional and local level.

They will support the PP in governing the Madrid region and Madrid City Hall, but it is in rural areas that they really did well.

Support for Vox on a local level has grown enormously since the last municipal elections in May 2015. 

In the last elections they won a meagre 22 councils across Spain but this time round have secured 530 seats and taken control of five councils. 

Five towns, all small rural communities in Castilla y León and Castilla La Mancha, will now have mayors from the far-right Vox party. These are Cardeñuela de Riopico, (Burgos), Vita (Ávila), Navares de las Cuevas (Segovia), Barruelo del Valles (Valladolid) and one town in Castilla La Mancha,  Hontecillas (Cuenca).

Poor show for Podemos

Pablo Iglesias says he won't resign as leader. Photo: AFP


The big losers have to be Podemos and Pablo Iglesias whose leadership of the radical left party will be open to scrutiny.

Although the party holds 42 seats in Spain's lower chamber and whose support is essential to Pedro Sanchez, the group's poor results in Sunday's triple vote will weaken their bargaining power. 

Data from the Interior Ministry showed Podemos had scored just 1.6 percent of the vote, behind Vox which won 2.9 percent.

Spain bucks EU trend

While Eurosceptic parties have surged forward in other countries across the EU, the votes cast by Spanish voters show that Spain is, on the whole, pro-EU along with its neighbour Portugal as well as Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. 

READ MORE: Spain proves it's more pro-Europe than ever and bucks the trend in EU

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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.