The day after the prematures parliamentary elections in Spainin which no faction secured an absolute majority, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his conservative rival Alberto Nunez Feijo, whose Popular Party won the most seats, will begin consultations to avoid another runoff.

Defying opinion polls that have wanted him headed for a heavy defeat for months, Mr Sanchez managed to limit the gains of the right-wing opposition.

The People’s Party (PP) secures 136 seats in the Congreso de los Diputados, Spain’s parliament, 47 more than the incumbent, while the far-right party Vox, its only potential government partner, another 33. Their total seats are therefore 169 seats, while the absolute majority is 176.

On the other side, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists (PSOE) hold 122 seats and the Sumar faction, which absorbed Unidas Podemos, another 31.

“No pasarán!”

In front of his enthusiastic supporters who chanted “No pasarán!” [σ.σ. «Δεν θα περάσουν!», το αντιφασιστικό σύνθημα του ισπανικού εμφυλίου (1936-1939)]Prime Minister Sanchez has hinted that he will try to take advantage of whatever opportunities he has to continue governing Spain.

“The reactionary alliance of the People’s Party and Vox has been defeated,” Mr Sanchez said, before asserting: “Those of us who want Spain to keep moving forward are far more numerous.”

With 153 seats at its disposal, the PSOE/Sumar alliance will need the support of localist factions, notably the Catalans of the ERC or the Basques of Bildu, a faction seen as the heir to the former political arm of ETA.

He will also have to ensure the abstention of Carles Puigdemont’s Catalan separatist party, Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), whose leadership has already warned that it will not help Mr Sanchez stay in power without a return.

If all the conditions are met, Mr Sanchez will have 172 MPs at his disposal, more than the PP leader, which would be enough for him to receive a vote of confidence from Parliament in the second vote, when a simple majority is required.

Otherwise, Spain, where four electoral contests have already been held from 2015 to 2019, will once again experience the famous bloqueo, political deadlock, which will require a new resort to the polls.

Winner, albeit narrowly, Mr. Feiho, for his part, announced that he will try to form a government.

The PP “won the elections” and “our task now is to avoid that a new period of uncertainty begins in Spain”, he emphasized from the balcony of his party headquarters.

“It won’t be easy”

I will start a dialogue” with the parliamentary factions to “form a government”, he added, demanding that the socialists do not “impede” him.

“We have a lot to discuss in the next few hours and weeks” and “it won’t be easy,” he acknowledged.

As he will not have an absolute majority with Vox, Mr Feijo will probably try to form a minority government. But this will require the abstention of the Socialists to secure a vote of confidence.

The Socialists have already made it clear that they have no such intention.

Trying to regain the initiative of the movements after his faction’s heavy defeat on May 28, Mr. Sanchez called early elections and put at the heart of his election campaign the fear that the far right would be in government if the PP wins.

This strategy seems to have worked: turnout reached almost 70%, 3.5 percentage points higher than in the previous elections, in November 2019.

Yesterday’s vote attracted an unusually large amount of attention abroad, mainly due to the possibility of a People’s Party/Vox alliance taking power in a country considered a pioneer on issues such as women’s rights, or those of the LGBT+ community.

If this scenario comes true, it will be the first time the far right has come to power in Spain in almost half a century since the end of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975.