News & Politics

Despite Emergence of Far-Right Nationalism, Spain Has First Socialist Prime Minister in Over a Decade

People on a rooftop wave Spanish flags during a march in downtown Barcelona, Spain, to protest the Catalan government's push for secession from the rest of Spain, Sunday Oct. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Europe has been fascinated by socialism for much longer than America. Or, rather, as a general rule, Europeans have cozied up to socialism in much larger numbers than Americans historically have. So, it’s not really a surprise that after the election dust has cleared, Spain’s new prime minister is a socialist. However, as that dust cleared, far-right nationalists also emerged triumphant by claiming 24 of the Spanish Parliament’s 350 seats.

The Telegraph reports:

On high turnout of close to 76 per cent, the Socialist party (PSOE) claimed victory for the first time since 2008 with 123 seats out of 350, although a delicately hung parliament means that forming a government will involve complex negotiations with other forces from the Left and regional parties.

Dizzy with post-election excitement, new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez boasted, “We have sent a clear message to Europe and the world: you can beat authoritarianism and involution from the left.”

Well, not so fast, Mr. Prime Minister. Whatever else it was, this election was not a referendum demonstrating wholesale support for far-left policies.

True, Sanchez is Spain’s first socialist prime minister since 2008, but Spain’s general election revealed a growing divide in the country. Mimicking much of the rest of the world, a growing number of Spaniards are increasingly unhappy with the leftist policies that are wreaking havoc in their communities as well as their dissatisfaction with the moderate politicians who refuse to take a stand. The referendum, if one exists, is a rejection of moderates. As The Telegraph points out, “Vox became the first hard-Right force to gain significant representation in Spain’s parliament since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 with 24 seats.” Taken in conjunction with the elevation of a far-left socialist to the position of prime minister, the rise of Vox is telling.

The biggest losers of Spain’s election were the mainline conservatives who lost over half of the seats they held. Prior to yesterday, the Popular Party held 137 seats, the most of any party. Falling from power to now being forced to work with the far-right party Vox in order to stymie the efforts of the left reveals the mood of conservatives in Spain. Likewise, the rise of Sanchez and his socialist party reveals the mood of Span’s leftists. Like many other western countries, Spain’s election reveals a growing political divide among the country’s citizens.