What are the possible coalitions in Spain after the elections?

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What are the possible coalitions in Spain after the elections?
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REUTERS/Sergio Perez
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After the Spanish election results on Sunday, it became clear that no political party will be able to govern without forming a coalition. But now that the results are known, everyone has started to speculate on possible alliances.

No matter which coalition comes into power, it’s clear that its leader will be the socialist Pedro Sanchez. Spanish socialists won the elections with 28,8% of the votes — that’s 123 seats out of the 350 that make up the Spanish parliament.

The right coalition’s defeat

The Popular Party (PP) with 66 seats got the worst results in its history and is ruled out from leading the right-wing coalition, which with Ciudadanos and Vox hoped to surpass the left-wing bloc. PP (66), Ciudadanos (57) and Vox (24) only managed to win 147 seats, meaning they’re too far from a majority.

Is Ciudadanos completely out of the picture?

Albert Rivera’s campaign was completely built around a total rejection of Sanchez’ policies.

“Sanchez and Iglesias (the leader of the left-wing Podemos) are going to form a government with the nationalists," said Rivera after learning the election results.

But though Rivera seems to have shut all doors to an alliance with the left bloc a long time ago, Sanchez could give him another chance. Ciudadanos (57) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party PSOE (123) have 180 seats together — more than enough to govern in a coalition.

In a speech from the PSOE’s headquarters, Sanchez seemed to offer Rivera a way into the government if he accepted “left-wing ideas and a progressive position” to which his followers responded, “With Rivera no”.

On Monday, the number two of the Ciudadanos party, Ines Arrimadas, completely shut down the idea of a coalition.

“There won’t be any type of negotiations for a government,” she said.

Unidas Podemos won’t be enough

The left-wing coalition Unidas Podemos — made up of Podemos, United Left, Equo, and other left-wing parties — got 14.31% of the votes and 42 MPs, a decrease of the 71 that it had until now.

Its leader Pablo Iglesias said that even though this wasn’t the result they were hoping for, it was “enough” because it allowed them to “stop the right-wing and the far-right” and start to “build a government made up of a left-wing coalition.”

However, the PSOE’s result (123) + Unidas Podemos (35) + Catalonia’s En Comú Podemos (7) total 165 seats, which means ten seats are missing to reach a majority. Where could they find them? The Catalan independentists, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (15), Junts per Catalunya (7), and the Basque Nationalist Party PNV (6) could potentially complete the coalition.

Could the PSOE govern alone?

Another option would be for the socialists to go at it alone by making agreements with other parties to build support for Sanchez’ investiture without a coalition.

Prime minister Carmen Calvo said that socialists would try to govern alone but the party’s president Cristina Narbona said they weren’t in a rush to decide.

In an interview with a Spanish radio station, Calvo said socialists had the majority to “lead the rudder of this boat that would have to follow course”.

"We have always aspired, as we said in the campaign, to an autonomous project and we would like one, but we understand that we have to seek agreements."