Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced that he will dissolve parliament and call a snap election for July 23, after his Socialist party suffered heavy losses in regional and local elections on Sunday.
Sanchez said he wanted to give Spaniards a chance to clarify what they want for the country, especially as Spain is set to assume the rotating presidency of the European Union in January 2024.
The decision came as a surprise to many observers, who expected Sanchez to try to form a coalition with other parties to maintain his minority government.
Sanchez’s Socialists were defeated by the conservative People’s Party (PP) in 11 of the 12 regions that held elections on Sunday, losing key strongholds such as Andalusia and Castilla-La Mancha. They also lost ground in most of the more than 8,000 municipalities that voted for their mayors and councilors.
The PP, led by Pablo Casado, hailed the results as a “turning point” for Spain and a “vote of no confidence” in Sanchez’s policies. Casado said he was ready to lead a “moderate and sensible” alternative to the Socialists.
The snap election will be the fifth general election in Spain since 2015, reflecting the political instability and fragmentation that has plagued the country in recent years. Sanchez became prime minister in June 2018 after ousting his predecessor Mariano Rajoy with a no-confidence vote, but he failed to secure a majority in parliament in two subsequent elections in April and November 2019.