On April 28, the Socialist Spanish Workers Party (PSOE) won general elections in Spain. The PSOE previously ruled the Spanish government since the Socialist leader, Pedro Sanchez, won a motion of censure against Mariano Rajoy, the Popular Party (PP) leader. Pedro Sánchez managed to win the motion against Rajoy, supported with the votes of extreme left political parties, as well as with votes from political parties demanding secession from Spain.

Since Pedro Sánchez won the motion of censure he had to govern as the minority in parliament. Not one of the political parties that helped Sanchez rise to power have been part of his government.

This situation severely limited Sanchez's government exercise. In fact, Spain's government since PSOE hold power, was done by legislative decrees, and not voted in parliament.

This is very paradoxical since most of those legislative decrees had been proposed by Rajoy´s government, and rejected by Sanchez. Sanchez had reached the presidency without winning an election, and he had abused the legislative decree. Taking these elements together, and having PSOE s a parliamentary minority, along with the dependency from radical political forces, raised doubts about Sanchez' presidency legitimacy. That situation forced the president to call general elections.

Failed strategy​​

Sanchez' idea was to win a solvent majority in parliament, aimed to need only support from another left force, such as Podemos, a party led by Pablo Iglesias.

The goal was to add 176 seats between both forces, which is an absolute majority in the Spanish Parliament. The April 28 electoral outcome was anomalous for all parties participating in the election. The PSOE was the party winning more seats, increasing its political power in parliament. The Irish Times reported that the party rose from 87 seats to 123.

Led by Pablo Casado, the PP was the great loser of the day, falling from 137 seats to 66.

The third political force was Ciudadanos (Cs), an eclectic party in the Spanish political spectrum, led by Albert Rivera. Cs rose from 32 seats to 57. Cs was the second great winner of the day. Podemos fell from 71 seats to 42. This party was Sanchez's most predictable government partner.

April 28 presented VOX as the fifth political force at parliament, with 24 deputies. VOX was the novelty of the day. VOX, led by Santiago Abascal, played the Alt-Right role and was the party that set the topics for political debate to all other parties.

Remaining seats in parliament were divided between Catalan and Basque independentist political parties. The parliamentary arithmetic is clear; it is not possible to govern in the majority with a single government partner other than PP or Cs. In order to have a stable legislature with left partners, Sanchez has to agree not only with Podemos but with secessionist parties as well.

Those parties will request innumerable demands from Sanchez. Since it is impossible to pact with PP, the most stable government pact is PSOE with Cs, but Cs has played.

throughout the electoral campaign, an important right-wing role. In fact, Cs was the party that most influenced Sanchez to call elections. A government alliance with Cs gives an absolute majority in Parliament, but neither the voters nor the militants from both parties will agree with that.

The right-wing axis formed by PP, VOX, and Cs was the greatly defeated group on April 28. All three parties fought for the same peoples´ vote. All three parties got a part of those votes. According to the Spanish electoral system, this voter division means fewer seats, even in spite of holding together more votes than the left parties’ group.

The Spanish puzzle

Pedro Sanchez has a complicated puzzle to put together.

He has a more divided parliament than before the elections, and now has 24 alt-right deputies inside parliament that were not there before. There are also more secessionist deputies. At the moment, Sanchez' choice is to govern in the minority, exactly the same as he was doing before the elections.

Combined with this complicated puzzle, there are more elections in the coming weeks. The Washington Post notes that local and regional elections come along as well as the European elections. These will generate a political paralysis in Spanish political forces. No single party will want to sign any government pact showing that they gave up on some key program issues. No single party will show its voters that political performance goes beyond the citizens' votes.