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“The Future Has Won And The Past Has Lost” Socialists Score Spanish Election Victory

Analysts say Sanchez is more likely to look to his right for parliamentary support, as the far left Podemos party no longer seems a viable partner after losing half its seats.

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Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist Party candidate Pedro Sanchez stands with his wife Maria Begona Gomez as he waves to supporters gathered at the party headquarters waiting for results of the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019. VOA

Spain’s governing Socialist party won the most votes in elections held Sunday but fell short of an overall majority in a highly fragmented outcome in which the conservative vote split three ways. Surging far right and centrist groups seriously undercut what was until now the main opposition, the Popular Party.

“The Socialist party has won the elections. The future has won and the past has lost,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told supporters outside his party headquarters in Madrid. He hinted at a possible governing arrangement with center-right parties, which have been bitter rivals leading up to the election.

With 99% of votes counted, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) is headed to a victory with an estimated 28% of the popular vote, giving it an estimated 123 seats in the 350-seat parliament, which is 40 more than it had. But the Popular Party (PP), which received less than 17% of votes, is losing almost half its seats, dropping from 137 to 65.

The centrist Ciudadanos party, which is barely 1 percentage point behind the Popular Party, has increased its representation to 57 seats. The far right Vox Party, however, fared worse than expected, receiving about 10% of the votes, giving it about 25 seats — its first in parliament.​

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With 99% of votes counted, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) is headed to a victory with an estimated 28% of the popular vote, giving it an estimated 123 seats in the 350-seat parliament, which is 40 more than it had. Pixabay

The far left Unidos Podemos also did poorly, with its projected parliamentary representation dropping, from 70 to 42.

“The mood of the country indicates a swing towards the center” political analyst Ramon Peralta, a law professor at the Complutense University of Madrid. “The three-way division of the right clearly hurt PP, with many of its votes going to Vox.”

Peralta projects a possible coalition between PSOE and Ciudadanos, despite bitter rhetoric exchanged between their leaders during the campaign, in which Ciudadanos candidate Albert Rivera called the prime minister a traitor for negotiating with Catalan separatists and vowed not to support a new mandate for the socialists.

The results, however, give no hope for a conservative dream coalition between PP, Ciudadanos and Vox, which had been openly discussed by the leaders of the three parties.

The numbers also show that Prime Minister Sanchez could continue with his current governing arrangement, counting on the parliamentary support of Podemos, Catalan secessionists and Basque nationalists, which also have increased their representation in the national parliament.

Santiago Abascal, leader of far right party Vox, gestures supporters gathered outside the party headquarters following the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Santiago Abascal, leader of far right party Vox, gestures supporters gathered outside the party headquarters following the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019. VOA

VOX leader Santiago Abascal defiantly told supporters outside his party headquarters in Madrid, “Spain may be worse off after the elections, but Vox will be in the parliament for the first time, and there will be 24 deputies that fight to defend Spain’s unity and basic values.”

PP had little to celebrate. “Things have gone very badly,” PP spokesman and congressional candidate Javier Fernandez Lasquetty told VOA.

“We are paying a very high price for a fragmented right,” he said.

Ciudadanos leader Rivera, whose party almost overtook PP, told supporters his centrist option “keeps growing.” However, he discounted any possible deal with Sanchez.

Analysts say Sanchez is more likely to look to his right for parliamentary support, as the far left Podemos party no longer seems a viable partner after losing half its seats.

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The Catalan leftist separatist party ERC, led by secessionist President Quim Torra, gained support over more-moderate parties in Catalonia, making any parliamentary coalition with Spain’s central government difficult to sustain.

The Basque Nationalist Party and the radical separatist Bildu, composed of some former supporters of the terror group ETA, also increased their representation in parliament, each gaining a seat. (VOA)

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Albanians Call PM Edi Rama to Step Down to Pave Way for Early Elections

Waving posters and releasing paper lanterns marked “Quit,” some in the crowd of several thousand threw a dozen paint bombs at Rama’s office

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Albania's opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha speaks during an anti-government protest in front of the Parliament in Tirana, Albania, May 25, 2019. VOA

Albanian opposition supporters took to the streets again Saturday in a mostly peaceful protest, the sixth national one in three months, calling on Prime Minister Edi Rama to step down to pave the way for early elections.

Waving posters and releasing paper lanterns marked “Quit,” some in the crowd of several thousand threw a dozen paint bombs at Rama’s office. Some also hurled firecrackers at riot police near the parliament building. But there was less unrest than in the last protest two weeks ago, when some demonstrators hurled petrol bombs, firecrackers and paint at the government building and parliament.

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Albanians call Prime Minister Edi Rama to step down to pave the way for early elections. Wikimedia Commons

Rejecting allegations of fraud at the 2017 elections that gave his Socialist Party victory and him a second term in office, Rama told opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha he would not resign and urged him in a public letter to settle the crisis with talks.

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“He is asking me, asking us to capitulate? Answer to him!” Basha told the crowd, who chanted back in unison: “Rama quit.” “Pave the way to the political solution,” Basha added.

Hours before the rally, the EU delegation, its member states’ embassies and the United States embassy had urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully. “We call on all sides to build upon the existing offer for a dialogue, with the view to finding a way out of the current political situation as a matter of urgency,” the EU office said. (VOA)