Spain in ‘political limbo’ after election yields no clear winner

Spain appears headed for a hung parliament after national elections on Sunday left parties on the right and left without a clear path towards forging a new government.

With 99 percent of votes counted by 11:45pm (21:45 GMT) on Sunday, the conservative opposition People’s Party (PP) had 136 seats while Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had 122 seats.

Parties with the greatest potential to be kingmakers were nearly even with the far-right Vox part on 33 seats and far-left Sumar on 31.

The outcome for Vox, which had campaigned on a platform of rolling back laws on gender violence, LGBTQ rights, abortion and euthanasia, marks a loss of 19 seats from four years earlier.

While Sanchez’s Socialists finished second, they and their allied parties celebrated the outcome as a victory since their combined forces gained slightly more seats than the PP and the far-right.

The bloc that could likely support Sanchez totalled 172 seats, while the right bloc, behind PP’s leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo, was likely at 170.

Al Jazeera’s Sonia Gallego, reporting from Madrid, said Spain “once again, finds itself in political limbo”.

“And there is no sign as to exactly which direction the country is headed, whether it’s with the vision of Mr Sanchez or whether it will all change under a government headed by Mr Feijoo,” she said.

The closer-than-expected outcome for the two blocs was likely to produce weeks of political jockeying and uncertainty over the country’s future leadership.

Negotiations to form governments will start after a new parliament convenes on August 17.


“Spain and all its citizens who voted have been absolutely clear,” he told a jubilant crowd gathered at the Socialists’ headquarters in Madrid. “The backwards-looking bloc that wanted to roll back all the progress we made over the past four years has failed.”

Spain’s Socialist leader and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez applauds during the general election, in Madrid, Spain, July 23, 2023.
Spain’s Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, right, and his allies described Sunday’s outcome as a victory[Nacho Doce/ Reuters]
Sanchez had called the snap polls in late May after his Socialist party and its far-left junior coalition partners suffered a drubbing in local and regional elections in which the right surged.

He focused his campaign on warning about the danger of a PP-Vox government to mobilise the electorate. The strategy appears to have paid off, with turnout reaching almost 70 percent, some 3.5 percentage points higher than in 2019.