Spain’s conservative People’s Party won a landslide victory in regional elections in Andalusia, an unprecedented victory that frees it from dependence on the far-right Vox party to rule the country’s most populous region.

With 99% of polling stations in the southern Spain region, the opposition PP won nationwide 58 seats – three more than the 55 seats needed for a majority. It is the party’s best result in the region so far.

“We made history in Andalusia,” said the leader of the region’s People’s Party, Juanma Moreno, on Sunday evening. The result was more than double the 26 seats the party won in the 2018 elections.

Vox won 14 seats, adding two more to its result in 2018 when it became the first far-right group to win at the polls since Spain’s return to democracy.

The gains contrasted sharply with the dwindling Ciudadanos (Citizens), which is in government as a junior partner in the People’s Party-led coalition. She failed to win a single seat in the early regional elections.

The left was also defeated, with the Socialists, in power nationwide, taking 30 seats – three fewer than in 2018, their worst result in the region so far – while the far-left groupings Bor Andalusia and Adelant Andalusia won seven seats combined, compared to 17 in 2018.

“The big failure here is due to the left-wing bloc,” said Juan Montapis Pereira, professor of political science at the University of Granada, citing a perceived lack of leadership, fragmentation among left-wing parties, and opinion polls suggesting Andalusians are growing easily. On the right in recent years. “It is a blow to the socialists who ruled the region for 37 years until 2018,” he added.

The victory was a sign of the strength of NPP leader Alberto Nunez Figo, who has sought to distance himself from the far right and present the party as a moderate alternative.

“I know this speech may sound boring or old-fashioned, but I’m sorry, I don’t think politics is a fashion show or a reality show,” Figo said during a recent rally.

The vote indicated the scale of the challenge facing the Socialists led by Pedro Sánchez as they prepare for national elections at the end of 2023. The loss in its former stronghold in Andalusia follows PP losses in previous regional elections in Madrid and Castilla y León.

“Sanchez could face an uphill battle for re-election next year,” Antonio Barroso, an analyst at political consultancy Tenio, told AFP, citing voters’ concerns about inflation as the central government struggles to stem the economic fallout from halting Russia’s invasion. Ukraine.

Pre-election polls had indicated that the People’s Party would not win a majority, forcing them to rely on Vox. While the far-right party had previously provided outside support for the PP-led coalition, Vox — likely encouraged by its recent and unprecedented entry into the Castilla y León region — insisted that their support must be tied to its participation in a single coalition government.

Paloma Roman, a professor of politics at the Complutense University of Madrid, said Moreno, the leader of the People’s Party of Andalusia, responded by urging voters to let him rule alone. Juanma Moreno will sleep wonderfully tonight.

Vox, which campaigned against illegal immigrants, anti-bullfighting activists, and feminists, managed to increase its number of seats by two.

Anticipating a backlash over a raft of feminist measures recently passed in Spain, Andalusian far-right candidate Macarena Olona has called menstrual leave plans “offensive” to her as a woman and insisted the country’s young women get more help for abortion than to raise a family. .

“The slight increase in seats is not the outcome they were hoping for,” Roman said, citing opinion polls that suggested the party could win as many as 20 seats in the region. “Technically speaking, its growth appears to have slowed down.”

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