May 30, 2023: Spain’s ruling Socialists suffered serious losses to opposition conservatives in local votings on Sunday, with around 95% of the votes counted, showing their electoral vulnerability ahead of an end-of-year general election.
Only three of the 12 regions holding elections will retain Socialist dominance by very narrow margins, with the rest likely to go to the conservative People’s Party, albeit with coalitions or informal support agreements with the far-right Vox party.
“The map changes completely and is a boost for Alberto Nuñez Feijoo – the new leader of the PP, ahead of the elections at the end of the year,” said Ignacio Jurado, professor of science at the Carlos III University.
The gains for the People’s Party (PP) indicate the conservatives could unseat the current left-wing coalition led by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) if they replicate the performance in national elections by December.
The numbers showed few clear majorities, except in the Madrid region where regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso of the PP looked set to win re-election with an absolute majority.
“In votes, the right-wing bloc expands but not dramatically. But that swing is enough to shift the center of gravity from left to right,” Jurado said.
The main setbacks for the Socialists came from losses in the Valencia, Aragon, and Balearic Island regions and in one of the essential Socialist fiefdoms, the southwestern Spanish region of Extremadura.
“The tsunami that has swept through all the Spanish regions today has also swept through us,” Javier Lamban, the outgoing Socialist president of Aragon, told a press conference where he admitted defeat.
Pacts will decide leadership in the Canary Islands, but PSOE has few chances of retaining power.
PSOE spokesperson Pilar Alegria told a press conference that the results differed from what we hoped for.
In big cities such as Valencia and Seville, where mayors were also elected, the count favored the PP, which also won an absolute majority in Madrid.
Barcelona was an outlier among big cities, with a pro-independence party winning the most votes by such a narrow margin that it will need an agreement with the Socialists to unseat the current mayor, far-left Ada Colau.