• Rajoy protégé Feijóo’s victory in Galicia seen as boon to national PP prospects
• Poor Socialist showing in both regions undermine PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez
Elections Sunday in Spain’s northern regions of Galicia and the Basque Country delivered mixed results for Spain’s governing conservative Partido Popular (PP), tempering acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s ability to claim an overwhelming mandate to form Spain’s next government. But, the regional elections also dealt a blow Socialist party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez, weakening his control over the party’s direction and his bid to block Rajoy’s investiture and to form an alternative government with the support of leftwing rival Podemos and centre-right party Ciudadanos.
In Galicia, as predicted by pre-election voter surveys, a strong turnout of PP supporters comfortably returned the party’s regional president and Rajoy protégé Alberto Núñez Feijóo to power, with the conservative party winning 47.53 percent of the vote for an absolute majority of 41 seats in the regional parliament. As also projected, the Socialists were edged out of their second-place position in Galicia by the regional Podemos-backed coalition En Marea (The Tide), which won 19.07 percent of the popular vote. But, a victory margin of only 16,000 votes means En Marea’s vote total wins it no more seats in the next assembly than the Socialists, who netted 17.88 percent of the vote total, with each party holding 14 seats when the new regional parliament is convened.
In the Basque Country, as expected the centre-right Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV, or Basque Nationalist Party) won the most votes, returning party leader Iñigo Urkullu to power as regional president (or, ‘Lehendakari‘, as the post is known in Basque) with 37.65 percent of the vote and 29 seats in the regional parliament — enough under the Basque electoral system to ensure Urkullu’s investiture as regional president in a second round voting in the regional parliament.
Pro-independence party EH Bildu won the second greatest number of votes, with 21.23 percent and 17 seats in the assembly, while the local Elkarrekin Podemos coalition making a strong showing, placing third with 14.83 percent of the vote and 11 seats in the regional legislature. In a virtually exact inverse of its showing in Galicia, the conservative PP were trounced in the Basque Country, placing last among all the parties and netting just 10.16 percent of the vote total and nine seats in the regional assembly.
Despite faring slightly better than the PP with 11.94 percent of the vote total, the Socialists nevertheless also took a drubbing at the polls, losing nine of the 18 seats they held in the last Basque legislature to tie the PP at just 9 seats each in the next session. The only consolation for the Socialists, who governed the Basque country from 2009-12 under the leadership of former Lehendakari Patxi López, is that they are tipped to be the likely partner in government of the PNV — which does not need the Socialists’ nine votes to seat Urkulla as Lehendakari, but will need the PSOE’s votes to approve the next regional budget and in the day-to-day passage of legislation to enable smooth functioning of the PNV government.