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Spain readies for yet another election in April | Euronews answers

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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announces snap election for April 28.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announces snap election for April 28. -
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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a snap election on April 28 on Friday after the Catalan parties brought down the minority socialist government by voting down the budget earlier this week.

Here is everything you need to know about the snap vote.

Why did Sanchez call a snap vote?

"One cannot govern without a budget," Sanchez said at a televised address on Friday.

“Between doing nothing and continuing without the budget and calling on Spaniards to have their say, I choose the second. Spain needs to keep advancing, progressing with tolerance,” he said.

The fallout with Catalonia after an independence bid in 2017 is still proving a burden to Spanish politics. This week and a day before the budget vote, 12 Catalan leaders went on trial in Spain's Supreme Court for their role in the secessionist drive.

Reuters
Catalan separatist leaders Jordi Cuixart, Jordi Turull, Joaquim Forn and Josep Rull appear in court at the start of their trial at Supreme Court in MadridReuters

Sanchez has also faced pressure from the centre-right parties (Popular Party and Ciudadnaos) and far-right Vox party, who called on supporters to protest in Madrid last Sunday over the government's handling of the Catalan crisis.

"The call for early elections after less than a year of the Sanchez government demonstrates once again what we already knew: the Catalan question is the main source of instability for Spanish politics," Spanish sociologist and political scientist Jorge Galindo told Euronews.

The vote will be the country's fourth general election in eight years.

Sanchez, 46, has been prime minister for only eight months and has governed with no electoral mandate and with only 84 deputies in the 350 seats in Congress. He decided not to call an early election after ousting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in June.

What do the polls predict?

Sanchez’s Socialist party is leading in opinion polls but they also show that no single party would win the necessary 176 votes to govern alone, according to the latest survey by the Center for Sociological Research of Spain (CIS).

"What happens is that the structural scenario has no sign of changing after these elections," Spanish sociologist and political scientist Jorge Galindo told Euronews. "So either it governs an agreement with the center right, or the left again tries with sovereignty, or a constitution with PSOE and Ciudadanos".

Galindo explained that given the complexity of any of these possible coalitions, it is unlikely the election will resolve parliament's deadlock.

How much of a threat is Spain's far-right?

Since the death of Francisco Franco in 1975 and the subsequent return to democracy, no far-right party has governed in the country. That was until Vox formed a coalition with the Popular Party to govern the southern region of Andalucia.

Another tie-up could see the Popular Party and Ciudadanos joining a coalition with the far-right party. However, it is unclear if the centre-right Ciudadanos party would agree to a tie-up with a far-right party.

Who are Sanchez's rivals?

Reuters
Pablo Casado, Albert Rivera, Pablo IglesiasReuters

Pablo Casado (Popular Party): Rajoy's successor has hit out at Sanchez's strategy to try and solve the Catalan crisis with dialogue.

He has given the Popular Party a harder right-wing line since Rajoy was ousted and has demanded the return of abortion laws that were similar to those of the 1980s.

Casado has also said that if he is elected as prime minister, he would consider reissuing article 155, which would see the central government take back direct control of Catalonia.

After the election was announced Casado said: "The first thing we have to say is that we are happy. For almost nine months we have been calling on Pedro Sanchez to fulfil his promise and give the Spanish people a voice and call elections."

"Why has he had to do so today? Because the People's Party has managed to push the Sanchez government to throw in the towel."

Albert Rivera (Cuidadanos): The leader of the centre-right Ciudadanos party has previously described Sanchez's government as the "Government Frankenstein".

Rivera like Casado berated the socialist government for playing too soft a hand with Catalonia.

Rivera, 39, has already started his electoral campaign in saying: "Spain needs liberalism, patriotism, future and modernity... Speaking of Franco and of abortion is not constructive."

Pablo Iglesias (Podemos): The 40-year-old leftist leader is currently on paternity leave and has said he will not return, despite the election, until March.

The party is going through its umpteenth internal crisis following the resignation of Iñigo Errejón, one of the most relevant figures since the party was founded in 2014.

Santiago Abascal (Vox): The far-right could break into Spain's parliament for the first time since Spain's democracy. Party leader Santiago Abascal, 42, has a long political career behind him and was a former member of the Basque parliament.