Spaniards voted in large numbers on Sunday in municipal and regional elections that serve as a test of whether the socialist Pedro Sánchez can win the national legislative elections at the end of the year or if, as the polls predict, the right returns to power.
After a day without major incidents, in these elections all the municipalities of the country and the governments of twelve of the seventeen autonomous communities (regions) are renewed.
The first official results are expected around 17 in Argentina, in a country where there are no exit polls.
Despite the rain in several areas of the country, turnout was high. By the afternoon, 51.48% of voters had participated in the municipal elections, compared to 49.93% at the same time in the previous elections, in 2019, according to the latest official data.
The image of Pedro Sánchez at a campaign event. AFP Photo
What's at stake
At the regional level, participation had also grown in most communities, compared to the previous elections.
Both the president of the government, Pedro Sánchez, and his main rival at the national level, the leader of the Popular Party (PP, right), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, called during the day to go to the polls massively.
These elections "are an important test, because it is the only way we have to express our opinion on all these years of government," Maria Alonso, a 61-year-old doctor who voted in Madrid, told AFPTV.
Although the name of Pedro Sánchez is not on any ballot, nor that of Núñez Feijóo, what is at stake is very important for the future of both politicians, who were so involved in the campaign that they gave it a national and first round before the legislative ones.
The leader of the PP, Isabel Diaz Ayuso. AFP Photo
Prime Minister since 2018, Sánchez arrived at this electoral test with disadvantages: the erosion of power, as well as high inflation – albeit lower than in most European countries – and the resulting fall in purchasing power.
In addition, the image of the government has suffered from repeated clashes between the coalition partners: the Socialists and the radical left of Podemos.
Sanchez campaigned taking chest of the balance of his government, especially by the good economic data.
But the polls predict a push from the right in these municipal and regional elections, which Núñez Feijóo presented as a plebiscite on Sánchez. If the advantage is confirmed, it could increase the possibility of a victory of the right in the legislative elections at the end of the year, at a date yet to be determined.