Spain’s hard-left suffers setback in local elections, complicating PM’s re-election bid

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Spain’s hard-left parties, led by Podemos and its allies, have faced a major defeat in the local and regional elections held on May 28th, losing support and seats across the country. The poor performance of the hard-left has also weakened the chances of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to win a second term in the snap general election scheduled for July 23rd.

Podemos, the junior partner in Sánchez’s coalition government, saw its support collapse in the municipal vote and the faction even disappeared altogether in several regions, including Madrid and Valencia. It was also a bad day for Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz, number three in Sánchez’s government who is spearheading the hard-left’s electoral hopes. Although she had no role in the vote, she was involved in several failed campaigns, including that of Barcelona mayor Ada Colau and her Valencian counterpart Joan Ribó, both of whom lost their seats.

The result was the final nail in the coffin for the hard left, marking its “failure” to put up a united front that would inspire its voters. Podemos, which grew out of the anti-austerity “Indignados” protest movement to become Spain’s third-largest political force in 2015, delighted its followers by entering a coalition government with the Socialists in 2020. But the excitement has largely faded following a string of disputes and controversies, notably Podemos’ flagship rape law which paradoxically allowed some offenders to reduce their sentences.

The electoral collapse of the hard left is bad news for Sánchez, whose Socialists also took a beating on Sunday, May 28th, losing six regions to the right and being roundly beaten in the local poll by the right-wing Popular Party, which won most votes. With polls suggesting the right will win on July 23rd – although, without an absolute majority, it will need support from the far-right Vox to govern – Sánchez will need the hard left to do well if is to have any chance of reviving his coalition.

The snap election has also thrown down the gauntlet for Labour Minister Díaz, who is fighting against the clock to unify the hard-left on her Sumar platform although she only has until June 9 to register it for the elections. Díaz is hoping to rally the hard left behind her newly-formed platform, Sumar, but she faces an uphill battle to convince voters and potential allies that she can offer a credible alternative to Sánchez’s Socialists and Rajoy’s Popular Party.


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