Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Popular Party leads in regional elections in Spain after a third of the votes are counted

by Belen Carreno and Jessica Jones

MADRID (Reuters) – The Socialist party that leads the Spanish government could lose power in local elections in the communities of Valencia and Aragón on Sunday, according to a recount of about 30% of the vote, a first showing its electoral vulnerability. A general election at the end of the year.

In large cities such as Valencia and Seville, where mayors were also elected, the ballot was almost over and the majority opted for the conservative Popular Party, which also won an absolute majority in the city of Madrid.

Barcelona was an exception among the larger cities, as the party with the most votes was pro-independence by such a small margin that it would require an agreement with the Socialist Party (PSOE) to oust the current mayor, the leftist Eda Kola.

The count in the autonomous communities yielded more adjusted figures, but most of those now led by the PSOE – which governs the country in coalition with far-left party United We Can – lean to the right with a narrow margin.

The Popular Party’s (PP) gains could oust the current left-wing coalition if repeated later in the year, although the PP would have to form a coalition with the far-right Vox party to regain control of the regions.

The figures showed few clear majorities, except in the Community of Madrid, where the regional president of the PP, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, probably won re-election with an absolute majority.

If confirmed, a defeat for the socialists in the Valencian Community, with nearly five million inhabitants, would be a severe blow to the PSOE.

The campaign has been marked by various controversies, from allegations of electoral fraud in small towns to an unprecedented kidnapping case.

The recount showed a return to a two-party system dominated by the PSOE and the PP after a decade of increased participation by smaller parties such as the left-wing Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos, who largely lost their seats to the PP.

(Reporting by Jessica Jones and Belen Carreno; Editing in Spanish by Javier López de Lerida)

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