Spain: Sanchez and Feijóo go head-to-head in live debate ahead of general election

PP candidate, Feijóo, right, shakes hands with Spain's PM and Socialist candidate, Sánchez, prior to the televised live debate ahead of Spain's GE in Madrid.
PP candidate, Feijóo, right, shakes hands with Spain's PM and Socialist candidate, Sánchez, prior to the televised live debate ahead of Spain's GE in Madrid. Copyright Bernat Armangue/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews
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With just two weeks to go until Spain's general election, opinion polls predict victory for conservative politician Feijóo.


The two main candidates to lead Spain met in the only televised face-to-face debate of the general election campaign late Monday.

Organised by the Atresmedia media group, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and leader of the PSOE Party faced Popular Party leader Alberto Nuñez Feijóo in what was a tense, often acrimonious debate which ran for over an hour and a half.

Sánchez called an early general election for July 23 in a surprise move after his Socialist party took a serious battering in local and regional elections in May.

The poll comes as Spain assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union on July 1.

What was discussed?

Sanchez and Feijóo tackled a range of topics including housing, pensions, international relations, women's rights and the economy. However, the sitting premier used much of his time to criticise the regional and municipal agreements that the Popular Party has made with the far-right Vox party.

Sanchez said the electorate would not be fighting for change when they go to the polls but would be looking for progress: "We are deciding if Spain will continue to advance as it has during the last 40 years or, Mr Feijoo and Abascal (Vox' leader) put us in a scary time tunnel where you do not know where you are going to end up".

The Vox Party which is similar to Brothers of Italy or Fidesz in Hungary, is now the third-largest party in Spain and could play kingmaker after next month’s election if, as a series of polls suggest, the PP win the most votes.

Feijóo said that Sanchez would always have rapists chasing him since the controversial “Only Yes is Yes” sexual offence law gave lower prison sentences.

What I say to you and I say to the Spanish people is that I am not perfect, and I don’t aspire to be. I have committed mistakes, I have had a very difficult mandate. We have faced a pandemic and now a war on the doorstep of Europe. But you know what I say to you Mr. Feijoo, I am a clean politician, I am clean politician
Pedro Sanchez
Prime Minister & Socialist candidate

“The problem that you have is, you will forever have 1,150 rapists and paedophiles chasing you, who have seen their sentences reduced. You talk to me about the LGBT flags, for which I have the utmost respect. But I also have respect for the flag of Spain," said Feijóo.

Both candidates spent much of the debate talking over each other and it was at times difficult to understand their points.

Critics of the far-right have slammed Vox for targeting the LGBTQ+ community and women's rights. They also claim it opposes the trans lobby, illegal migrants and Islam.

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