Sanchez's Election Gamble Seems to Have Backfired: Spain Update

Sanchez's Election Gamble Seems to Have Backfired: Spain Update(Bloomberg) — The outcome of Spain’s fourth election in as many years appears infuriatingly inconclusive. The first poll after voting closed points to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists remaining the biggest party but falling short of an outright majority.Meanwhile the far-right Vox party has surged to third place. At this rate, the impasse looks set to go on.Key Developments:Results are trickling in and a clearer picture will emerge in coming hoursWhichever party can form a coalition to reach 176 seats needed to form a majority in the 350-seat lower chamber is going to governHalf the votes have been counted (9:37 p.m.)It’s hard to imagine how Sanchez can be happy with these results. He’s basically held on but his most viable partner — Podemos — has lost support. In the meantime, the opposition has made significant gains — not enough to threaten him just yet but soon enough.With about 49% of votes counted, here’s how it stands:Socialists 122 seats (up 1 seat from April)PP 84 seats (up 21)Vox 49 seats (up 25)Podemos 34 seats (down 8)Esquerra Republicana 13 (down 2)Ciudadanos 10 seats (down 47 seats)Biggest loser has had spectacular fall from grace (9:28 p.m.)Ciudadanos is the centrist party that has swung to the right through its opposition to the Catalan independence movement. At one time it’s leader, Albert Rivera, had his sights on the top job. His has been a stunning humbling.Rivera refused point-blank to talk to Sanchez after April’s election when it had 57 seats –instead of the 15 or so it’s predicted to win tonight. Back then, Rivera believed his party was poised to become the main opposition by overtaking the PP.First results for the night have been published. You can follow the count here. Just over 20% of votes have been counted and it will be some time before the tally gives us a reliable reading of the final result.What the markets make of it all (9:12 p.m.)Investors have, on the whole, shrugged their shoulders at this election. The spread between Spanish and German 10-year sovereign bond yields has narrowed, showing there’s little concern about the political impasse.Still, the economy made a belated appearance as a topic at the televised debate on Nov. 4 and there are signs that Spain’s status as an outperformer among European economies may be at risk.Sanchez is in the same bind as before (8:37 p.m.)The poll suggests that Sanchez didn’t get the boost that he was hoping for when he took the risky decision to repeat elections. In fact, holding the vote in the aftermath of the conviction of Catalan separatists and the exhumation of General Franco drove support toward the Spanish nationalists of Vox.The opposition’s numbers also don’t add up (8:30 p.m.)The three right-wing parties — the People’s, Ciudadanos and Vox — are projected to win up to 164 seats. But their chances of persuading other groups to help them over the line is practically zero. So if the poll is right, Sanchez is really the only person who has a chance of forming a government. The question is how on earth can he do it?First poll after voting closes points to status quo (8:16 p.m.)Quick snap shot of the first opinion poll after voting closed is belowSocialists: down 6 seats to 117 seats.Socialists: down 6 seats to 117 seatsPP: up 22 seats to 88 seatsVox: up 34 seats to 58 seatsPodemos: down 11 seats to 32 seatsCiudadanos: down 42 seats to 15 seatsIt looks likely to be a hollow victory for Sanchez’s Socialists. They will emerge as the largest party but will have lost ground to the right. It’s a solid result for the PP, which looks to have clawed back some of the seats it lost in April. The big winner looks likely to be Vox, which will become the third-biggest party. That’s a huge change given that six months ago it didn’t even have a presence in parliament.Look out for Vox (8:01 p.m.)One party benefiting from the Catalonian issue is Vox, led by Santiago Abascal, which advocates for the strongest punishment for the secessionists and argues for the dismantling of Spain’s system of autonomous regional government. Its hard line resonates with some Spaniards: Vox entered parliament for the first time in April with 24 seats, and polls suggest it could double that tally.Read this for a very good explainer on this phenomenonThe issue that won’t go away (7:45 p.m.)Catalonian separatism has loomed large in Spanish politics ever since the local government’s attempt to force a break from Spain in 2017. The lengthy sentences recently handed to those leaders for sedition and the outbreak of violent protests in response have brought the issue to the fore once moreSanchez has had a bad week (earlier)Sanchez had hoped for a trouble-free few days before the election. Instead, he’s found himself defending the health of the economy and dragged further into the morass of the Catalan separatist movement. Calling another round of elections may prove to be an act of hubris, allowing his opponents on the right to gain more seats.Sanchez’s Bad Week: Data, Errors Mar Spain Leader’s CampaignTo contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Madrid at;Esteban Duarte in Toronto at;Jeannette Neumann in Madrid at jneumann25@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at;Flavia Krause-Jackson at fjackson@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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