Elections in Spain: another shift to the right in Europe?

The Spanish parliamentary elections on Sunday could usher in a change of government, according to the latest polls. If the conservative People's Party (PP) under opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo wins the most votes, with the support of the right-wing populist Vox party it could oust socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his left-wing coalition. Commentators speculate on the repercussions of this potential shift to the right.

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El País (ES) /

This is not about social and economic policy

Vox has succeeded in turning the elections into a referendum on the Spaniards' sense of national identity, El País fears:

“On 23 July we will not elect our highest public administrator but the high priest of the fatherland. ... To win the elections, you have to present yourself as a follower of the national religion. ... That is the specific problem of the progressives: in a country where the majority votes centre-left and likes the government's social and economic policies, there is a real danger that it will lose on Sunday. Many voters think that the government has failed to defend the 'common faith' against the separatists' demands. A mistaken perception? Perhaps, but the government is doing nothing to refute it.”

Polityka (PL) /

Three ominous scenarios

If the far-right Vox actively influences government policy it would have negative consequences for the EU, Polityka worries:

“Three variants are possible. The first, the Italian one, is that the far right enters a formal coalition. In the second, familiar from Greece, Vox could be sidelined, but at the cost of the governing party sliding a long way to the right. In the third, the Swedish variant, Vox would back the PP without a formal coalition agreement, so a minority government would emerge with concessions to the far right in return for support in key votes. All of these scenarios would spell trouble for the EU and the pro-Ukrainian alliance - especially since Spain currently holds the EU Council presidency.”

Libération (FR) /

Exposed to ill winds

Libération expects a bad outcome:

“Unfortunately Spain has not escaped the ill wind that is blowing across many democracies in Europe and elsewhere. The wind that brought Trump and Bolsonaro to power in the US and Brazil, and whose gusts are increasingly being felt in France. The wind of populism and an alliance between the right and the far right, whose weapons are now known: an explicit distance from facts, the spreading of rumours, for example about fraud in postal voting, all kinds of manipulation and the incitement of national sentiment in a country that has not yet fully come to terms with its Francoist past.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

This could shake all Europe

The present election is decisive not only for Spain, the Irish Examiner points out:

“This weekend, the Spanish electorate will have big decisions to make and depending on how they vote, they could have a far-right government for the first time since Franco. This, as has been the case with other election results across the continent, will shape European politics and may even have an influence here in Ireland as we begin to see the rise of far-right politics emerging. That is something we have steadfastly resisted in the past and, we hope, will in the future.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

More rivals than allies

Corriere della Sera is not sure how likely a coalition between Vox and the conservatives is:

“Although they have started to govern together at the local level, PP and Vox now seem to be more rivals than allies. With the attitude of a bullfighter, [Vox leader Santiago] Abascal has announced that there will be a tough confrontation after the elections. ... Vox did not like the PP 'extending a hand' to PSOE to make a neutrality pact that would allow the list with the most votes to govern 'without having to form an alliance with extremism'. So the possibility of a paralysing stalemate which prevents the formation of a government cannot be ruled out.”