General elections in Spain: start of a campaign in which Pedro Sanchez plays a jack-of-all-trades

This Thursday, July 6, was the first official day of the electoral campaign for the general legislative elections of July 23. The main political parties and candidates are packing their guns. On the left, socialist Pedro Sanchez is fighting to stay in power. On the right, the conservative, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo hopes to dethrone him, on the strength of the polls that give him the favorite.

The head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sanchez, during the first meeting of his campaign for the legislative elections, July 6, 2023. AFP - PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU

Text by: François Musseau Follow


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With our correspondent in Madrid,

The head of government, Pedro Sanchez, opened the campaign and held his first meeting at the Principe Pio station in Madrid. The challenge, for Pedro Sanchez, is to see if his poker move will work or not. On 28th May he and his socialist party, the PSOE, suffered a rout in the local and regional elections, losing big cities such as Valencia, Valladolid and Gijón.

Normally, the general legislative elections were scheduled for December, but, to everyone's surprise, Pedro Sanchez brought them forward to the end of July. To clarify, he says. That is to say, not to suffer an agony of several months until winter and count his strength as quickly as possible. The head of the Spanish government wants to try to mobilise the left as much as possible by telling his electorate: "Here are the results of my mandate, I think I have a good record. I need to know if you support me to continue or not. »

Conservative Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, poll favourite

Opposite, his main opponent is the conservative Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, the new leader of the People's Party. The polls show him as the favourite. He opened his campaign in his native village in Galicia.

Also listenEUROPEAN OF THE WEEK - The challenges of Alberto Nunez Feijoo, new boss of the Spanish right

Everything is to his advantage a priori. He recently took over the reins of the People's Party, he has an image of seriousness, he does not have a judicial pot like other leaders of the right, he embodies order. And above all, he has managed to spread the idea, he and the right-wing media, that Pedro Sanchez is the worst: a man who allies himself with the extreme left of Podemos, the secessionists in Catalonia and the supposed nostalgic of the terrorist organization ETA in the Basque Country.

Pedro Sanchez, or rather "Sanchism", would also be laws on euthanasia, transgenders, facilities for abortion, all subjects to which the right-wing electorate is fiercely opposed. So many themes that agitate social networks, and this benefits the People's Party (PP).

The far left and the far right, arbiters of the vote?

On the margins, there is the more radical left led by Yolanda Díaz and the radical right of Santiago Abascal, the Vox party. These parties and their leaders play a preponderant and fundamental role in Spanish politics. On the left, Yolanda Díaz and her recent movement Sumar, embodies a pragmatic left of the left. He is Pedro Sanchez's best ally: they get along well, and by all accounts, this possible coalition should work well.

On the right, it's more complicated. Santiago Abascal, the extremist leader of Vox, will reap good results, polls say. Current polls say that the conservative right will win, but can only win an absolute majority with an alliance with the far right.

If this is the case, it will be explosive, because Vox supports theses that the moderate Alberto Nuñez Feijoo rejects. Climate denial, end of aid to women victims of domestic violence, harshness against homosexuals, etc. Everything remains uncertain for this election. What is certain is that the Spanish legislative elections will have an impact on European politics.

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