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Spanish elections

So far, so good, what next?

Spanish elections

  • The results of the Spanish election, published this morning, confirm that no single party has a sufficient number of deputies to form a majority government.

  • As expected, the parties must now try to build a workable coalition government.

A sense of déjà vu …

The result of the previous December 2015 elections was the most fragmented parliament since the late 1970s, which led to a political stalemate. It was not possible to form a coalition government, meaning that a second general election within six months was necessary yesterday, June 26. As expected, no party won an outright majority: the election again resulted in a fragmented parliament. However, the parties’ willingness to form a coalition government is probably bigger as most would not want to run the election a third time, particularly given the Europe-wide uncertainty after the U.K. EU referendum result. This may have had an impact on the Spanish result, with the Spanish electorate’s concerns about the broader implications of the U.K. decision pushing them towards the perceived safety of the traditional parties, with the People’s Party (PP) and PSOE (Socialists) performing better than expected. By contrast, the left-wing Podemos was not able to gain additional seats they had aspired to.

Nonetheless, we believe coalition negotiations will be difficult and some uncertainty will remain until a coalition government can be formed. The post-election process usually starts with the leader of the political party that has won the most votes starting a first round of talks in order to gather an absolute majority of seats in Congress. If this is not possible, a second round is started 48 hours later, in order to gather a relative majority. According to Section 99 of the Spanish Constitution, a candidate has to gain the confidence of Congress within two months of the investiture vote. If this is not the case, the parliament must be dissolved and a new general election will have to be called.

... but a different outcome is likely

With none of the four major parties having an absolute majority there is no obvious coalition. We believe that the most likely result is a minority coalition around the PP and the Citizens party in combination with some smaller center-right parties (137+32+5+1 = 175) – one vote from the opposition required – maybe backed by dissenters within PSOE. Less likely is a grand coalition between PP, Citizens and PSOE. At the other end of the spectrum, a coalition between the PSOE, Podemos and other minority leftist parties (84+71+9+8=173) is possible. Arithmetically, it does not lead to a majority, though, and support from parts of the remaining parties is unlikely. A grand coalition between the major mainstream parties could eventually unblock the stalemate, but still seems to be only an outside possibility.

Election outcome: Congress of Deputies: Total seats = 350

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