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World

Socialists In Spain Win Election But Need Other Parties' Support To Govern

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Spain's governing socialist party won the country's elections on Sunday. They fell short of a majority, though, and will need the support of smaller parties to be able to govern. Despite this win, a far-right party has been voted into Parliament for the first time since the country became a democracy around 40 years ago. Lucia Benavides reports from Spain.

LUCIA BENAVIDES, BYLINE: Dozens of people are lining up at a voting station in the small Catalan town of Moia, about an hour-and-a-half from Barcelona. Polls have only been open two hours, but volunteer Teresa Terricabras (ph) says she's already seeing more people than in the 2016 elections.

TERESA TERRICABRAS: (Speaking Spanish).

BENAVIDES: "We're afraid of the right wing in Spain," she tells me.

Voter turnout was higher than usual this election at 75 percent. According to Spain's interior ministry, that's up 9 percentage points since the 2016 election. And while no political party won absolute majority, analysts say the socialists are likely to form a coalition government with smaller parties, including the far-left United We Can. Negotiations are expected to last weeks or months.

(SOUNDBITE OF RALLY)

PRIME MINISTER PEDRO SANCHEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

BENAVIDES: After results came in, socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told supporters that the future had won, and the past had lost. While the right-wing coalition government is now out of the picture, the far-right party Vox still won 24 seats. Vox leaders want to defund feminist organizations, build a wall to keep migrants out and suspend Catalonia's autonomy. Political analyst Tania Verge says their narratives have pushed other conservative parties more to the right.

TANIA VERGE: (Through interpreter) There's now a discourse resembling the conversation President Trump has created in the U.S. Right-leaning parties are competing with one another, giving these ideas more weight in the media.

BENAVIDES: Yet according to the Center for Sociological Research, Spaniards care less about Catalan independence and feminism and more about unemployment and political corruption. Seventy-eight-year-old Manuel Martinez Morales (ph), a retired mechanic who lives in the outskirts of Barcelona, says he worries about the future of young Spaniards.

MANUEL MARTINEZ MORALES: (Speaking Spanish).

BENAVIDES: "Today workers get paid what I did in 1983," he tells me. He blames right-wing politicians for Spain's economic crisis and says that's why he was voting for the socialist party. For NPR News, I'm Lucia Benavides in Barcelona.

(SOUNDBITE OF TEEN DAZE'S "WANDERING THROUGH KUNSTHAL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.