Pedro Sanchez had not said a word on Sunday evening, after the bitter defeat of the Socialists and their far-left allies in the municipal and regional elections. Nor had he appeared at the headquarters of the Socialist Party (PSOE). But his very brief appearance on Monday May 29, shortly after 11 a.m., had the effect of a political bombshell. The Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of general elections on July 23.
Centrists eliminated politically
This daring move is a real bet that takes the entire opposition by surprise, still immersed in the analysis of Sunday’s results. Pedro Sanchez assumes the defeat and takes note. The magnitude of his decision is equal to the huge slap in the face at the ballot box: the right (People’s Party, PP) will recover at least six of the ten regions governed by the Socialists; it is also progressing in the municipal elections, where it captured most of the vote of the centrists, now politically eliminated.
This mechanical transfer enabled the PP to take a head start (700,000 votes) over the PSOE. The Socialists should lose fifteen of the twenty-two provincial capitals, including historic strongholds. Especially since their allies on the radical left have retreated, or even disappeared, making post-election agreements difficult. A real debacle.
The right challenged to ally with Vox
But the right will only be able to govern in the recovered regions if it allies itself with Vox, the far-right party, thus placed in a decisive position to negotiate regional support or coalition governments. “All of this foreshadowed a change of cycle,” said Pablo Simon, professor of political science at Charles III University in Madrid.
It is this perspective that Pedro Sanchez wants to break by calling early legislative elections. But does he have the arguments to win? He had bet on the social fiber, the promises in terms of housing. Neither the good economic situation nor the fall in unemployment, nor the rise in the minimum wage by 47% over the past five years have convinced the voters.
The past of Pedro Sanchez
“That the economy is doing well is a necessary but not sufficient condition”, explains Pablo Simon, for whom Pedro Sanchez has two problems: “His social policies are more popular than him and the voters do not forgive him for having promised in 2019 never to ally with the radical left and the separatists, and to have done the opposite afterwards. »
This past resurfaced during the campaign, very polarized around his leadership. “His social agenda has been stifled by his policy of alliances at the territorial level with the Basque separatists but also Catalans, specifies Pablo Simon. Choices that went wrong in socialist strongholds like Andalusia, where the right is widely extending its advantage.
By advancing the legislative elections, initially scheduled for the end of the year, Pedro Sanchez forced the conservative right to strike a balance: manage an electoral campaign while negotiating alliances with the far right if it wants to govern in the won regions. It seeks to mobilize the useful vote in the face of the hypothesis of a government associating the right with the extreme right.