The Spanish Prime Minister faces the test of the regional elections in Andalusia
Seville (Spain) (AFP) – Andalusia votes in a snap regional election on Sunday that the incumbent conservative People’s Party is expected to win comfortably, dealing a blow to Spain’s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez ahead of a nationwide vote scheduled for late 2023.
More than six million people are eligible to vote in Spain’s most populous region where scorching temperatures are expected to cool slightly after a week of extreme heat, which officials say will hurt turnout.
Polling stations opened at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) and will close at 8 p.m., with final results expected a few hours later.
Polls suggest the conservative People’s Party (PP) will win around 50 seats in the 109-seat Andalusian parliament, more than all left-wing parties combined.
He has governed the southern region known for its white-walled villages and popular resorts on the Costa del Sol since 2018 in a coalition with the small centre-right Ciudadanos party.
The Socialists are expected to win around 33 seats, the same number as in the last elections in 2018, when they were ousted from power in Andalusia for the first time since the regional government was created in 1982.
A scandal over the misuse of public funds meant to tackle unemployment has been blamed for the party’s beating in its long-held stronghold which is home to around 8.5 million people.
“All the social advances that have taken place in Andalusia and Spain have been initiated by the socialists. Never by the right,” Sanchez said at a final campaign rally Friday in Seville, the region’s capital.
While the PP looks set to win Sunday’s elections, it is unclear whether it will secure an outright majority that would allow it to govern alone.
If not, the PP will likely have to seek support from the far-right Vox by bringing it into the regional government, as happened earlier this year in the northern region of Castilla y Leon.
So far, Vox has supported the PP in Andalusia but from outside the government.
Any agreement with Vox would complicate the efforts of the PP’s new national leader, Alberto Nunez Feijoo, to project a more moderate image.
” Gain momentum “
The leader of the PP in Andalusia, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla, has urged voters to deliver him a “strong” government that is not “weighed down” by Vox.
If the polls are correct, it will be the Socialists’ third consecutive loss in regional elections to the PP after votes in Madrid in May 2021 and Castile and Leon in February.
Losing in Andalusia would be a “death blow” for the Socialists and mean “Sanchez could face an uphill battle to be re-elected” next year, said Antonio Barroso, an analyst at political consultancy Teneo.
“The PP appears to be gaining momentum, and voter concerns about inflation could make it harder for Sanchez to sell his government’s achievements in the upcoming legislative elections,” he added.
Spain’s inflation rate hit 8.7% in May as the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fueled inflation around the world, including higher oil prices. ‘energy.
The PP has sought to present itself in Andalusia as a “sensible alternative” to the center, Oscar Garcia Luengo, professor of political science at the University of Granada, told AFP.
The strategy appears to be working as the party is poised to win the support of nearly 17% of voters who voted for the Socialists in 2018, according to a Sigma dos survey for the daily El Mundo.
© 2022 AFP