La Gaceta De Mexico - Spanish PM set for drubbing in Andalusia regional election

Spanish PM set for drubbing in Andalusia regional election
Spanish PM set for drubbing in Andalusia regional election / Photo: © AFP

Spanish PM set for drubbing in Andalusia regional election

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists appeared to have suffered a drubbing in a regional vote in Andalusia on Sunday ahead of a national election expected at the end of next year.

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According to a poll carried out over the past week by GAD3, released after polling stations closed at 8 pm (1800 GMT), the incumbent conservative Popular Party (PP) won by a landslide, capturing 58-61 seats in the 109-seat Andalusian regional parliament.

That would give the party its first ever absolute majority in Spain's most populous region and prevent it from having to govern in alliance with far-right party Vox, which captured 13-15 seats according to the poll.

The Socialists were set to win 26-30 seats, which would be its worst ever result in their former stronghold which they governed without interruption between 1982 and 2018 when the PP ousted them from office.

A scandal over the misuse of public funds intended to fight unemployment was blamed for the party's loss of support in the last election in 2018 in the region of around 8.5 million people.

Final official results were expected later on Sunday.

- 'Uphill battle' -

If the poll is correct, this will be the Socialists' third consecutive regional election loss to the PP after votes in Madrid in May 2021 and Castilla y Leon in February.

Sanchez's leftist coalition government has been struggling to deal with the economic fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has fuelled inflation worldwide, especially through increasing energy prices.

Losing in Andalusia would be a "severe blow" for the Socialists and would mean "Sanchez might face an uphill battle to get re-elected" next year, said Antonio Barroso, an analyst at political consultancy Teneo.

"The PP seems to be gaining increasing momentum, and voter concerns about inflation might only make it more challenging for Sanchez to sell his government's achievements in the next legislative election," he added.

Spain's inflation rate hit 8.7 percent in May, its highest level in decades.

Sanchez's government has rolled out a swathe of measures to help consumers, including a subsidy on fuel prices at the pump, an increase in the minimum wage, direct grants to truck drivers and financial support for some farmers.

The PP has governed Andalusia -- known for its popular Costa del Sol beach resorts -- since 2018 in a coalition with smaller centre-right party Ciudadanos which the polls suggests did not get enough votes to win a single seat this time around.

- 'Sensible alternative' -

Vox had warned that if the PP failed to get an absolute majority, it would demand to enter into government with the PP in exchange for the latter's support.

Until now, Vox has supported the PP in Andalusia but from outside government.

During the campaign the head of the PP in Andalusia, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, had urged voters to deliver him a "strong" government that is not "weighed down" by Vox.

Vox entered a regional government in Spain for the first time since the country returned to democracy in the 1970s in the central Castilla and Leon region earlier this year.

Any deal with Vox in Andalusia would complicate efforts by the PP's new national leader, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, to project a more moderate image.

The PP has sought to present itself in Andalusia as a centrist "sensible alternative", University of Granada political science professor Oscar Garcia Luengo told AFP.

The strategy appears to be working as the party is poised to win the support of nearly 17 percent of voters who cast their ballot for the Socialists in 2018, according to a survey published in daily newspaper El Mundo.