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Partido Popular Conservatives Win Spain’s General Elections

But, with the PP falling short of an absolute majority, Spain still faces political gridlock

The Partido Popular Wins Spain’s June
Photo by Isopix/REX/Shutterstock (5588239aw)

MADRID — With 96% of votes counted, Mariano Rajoy’s ruling Popular Party looked on track to win Spain’s June 26 general elections, securing 137 seats, some 14 more than at December’s polls but insufficient to form an absolute majority in parliament.

Confounding exit polls, Spain has seen no decisive shift to the left in votes and Spain’s PSOE socialist party remains the dominant party of Spain’s left, winning around 85 seats to the 71 of far-left Unidos Podemos, which has not seen a predicted surge in support to overtake the PSOE.

The PP’s build has come at the expense of center-right Ciudadanos, which has lost eight seats, dropping to 32. The PP’s victory does nothing, however, to break the deadlock in Spanish politics which over the last six months has seen both the PP and PSOE attempting and failing to create alliances which would allow them to govern Spain.

Spain’s major political parties will now be under large public pressure to make sacrifices which will allow for a coalition government. Spain has clawed its way out of a double-dip recession over 2008-13, but it needs larger political certainty to buttress a still potentially frail recovery.

Spain’s economic recovery has benefited its two major commercial broadcasters, Mediaset España and the Atresmedia Group, which both saw first-quarter-2016 revenues and operating profits climb.

Over the last three years, Spain’s film industry has also seen a significant rise in market share, thanks to movies backed by both broadcast groups which have punched blockbuster results at Spain’s box office, powering Spanish films; domestic market share to 25% in 2014, the best result since 1977.

Standout box office for a small clutch of films stands in stark contrast to the lack of visibility over a long-mooted new state-financing system, prizing market-oriented films backed by Spanish broadcasters and with strong distribution prospects. The first films benefiting from this system have still to be announced.

“We are living [in] a period of large uncertainty. We don’t know what films will be selected or whether the system will work pro forma or not, for instance,” said Antonio Saura, head of Latido Films, one of Spain’s biggest international sales agents.

Any government involving Ciudadanos or the PSOE socialist party could benefit Spain’s content industry, leading to a more rapid solution to Spain’s digital copy levy imbroglio which has seen the government running up a multi-million-dollar debt with rights collection societies. If part of a coalition government, Ciudadanos and the PSOE may well give more support to Spain’s struggling arthouse/crossover movie industry than the Partido Popular. That at least is the hope of many smaller movie producers in Spain.

First, however, Spain’s parties have to compromise and form a government. That task will first fall to Mariano Rajoy (pictured) as the leader of the most-voted party. Reacting to Sunday night’s results, Pablo Iglesias declared that PSOE and Unidos-Podemos should talk. He told reporters, however, that “Unidos-Podemos would not prostitute its principles.”

Meanwhile, PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez, confirming to cheers that the PSOE is still Spain’s leading force on the left, fired off a first post-election salvo at Iglesias, criticizing his “intransigence and personal ambition,” which had frustrated a coalition government earlier this year. Attempts to form a government in Spain still look like an uphill task.