As Spain gears up for its crucial election on Sunday, the political landscape is shaping up to be a fierce battleground, with two leftist and two rightist parties vying for victory and the possibility of forming coalitions. Let’s take a closer look at the four leaders leading their parties into the contest.
The incumbent Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, is seeking re-election, but recent ballots and most polls seem to be against him. As the leader of the Socialist party, Sánchez has navigated Spain through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks in part to a successful vaccination program. He also tackled an inflation-driven economic downturn, further complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, his reliance on fringe parties, including separatist forces from Catalonia and the Basque Country, to maintain his minority coalition, along with the passage of several liberal-minded laws, may pose a threat to his chances of retaining office.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo
Considered a frontrunner, Alberto Núñez Feijóo has rapidly gained popularity since taking charge of the right-wing Popular Party in April 2022. Winning four consecutive regional elections in his native Galicia, a traditional stronghold for the party, Feijóo was initially viewed as a moderate leader. However, with sudden elections and the far-right Vox party making inroads, he has shifted towards a more right-wing stance, pledging to repeal many of the leftist government’s laws and mounting an aggressive campaign to unseat Prime Minister Sánchez.
At the helm of the far-right Vox party stands Santiago Abascal, a 47-year-old leader who presents himself as an outsider with a mission to save Spain’s essence. Abascal was once a member of Spain’s mainstream Popular Party but broke away due to his disapproval of their handling of the separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country. It was Catalonia’s failed secession bid in 2017 that propelled Vox’s rise. Founded in 2014, the party entered Spain’s Parliament in 2019 amid tensions in Barcelona and Catalonia. With his distinctive appearance, bearded and barrel-chested, Abascal embraces symbols of traditional Spanish culture.
The only female candidate among the four, Yolanda Díaz, aged 52, hails from the small Galician town of Fene and comes from a family of working-class, trade union, and anti-Franco dictatorship activists. As the labour minister and second deputy prime minister under Prime Minister Sánchez since 2021, she has garnered widespread popularity for her negotiation skills. As a labour lawyer, she successfully brokered agreements such as the industrial peace deal with unions and business groups, as well as securing increases in the minimum wage and implementing a special furlough scheme for companies during the pandemic.
Sunday’s election promises to be a critical moment for Spain, with its citizens eager to determine the direction of the nation’s future. As the leftists and rightists lock horns, the possibility of coalitions looms, making the outcome even more unpredictable. All eyes are on the ballot boxes as Spain awaits its political fate.