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The Right and Regionalists Win in Rural Spain by Bridget Ryder

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The Right and Regionalists Win in Rural Spain

In the much anticipated elections in the Spanish region of Castilla-León on February 13th, the Right won a clear victory with Partido Popular (PP) and VOX, together winning enough seats in the regional parliament to easily form a government, as long as they can reach an agreement. 

The elections captured international headlines as a barometer for possible change in Spanish politics, marked by a turn to the Right and the increasing influence of dissatisfied rural voters. The autonomous community of Castilla-León is geographically the largest regional community in the country, incorporating northwest Spain from Madrid to the Cantabria Mountains. The region includes some of Spain’s least populated areas.  

The results of the election show Spaniards are looking for political alternatives.

Overall, VOX was the biggest winner in the elections, gaining 136,892 votes since the 2019 elections, and winning a total of 13 regional parliament seats. Though the PP won the most parliament seats, earning 31 places for its representatives, it still lost votes—a total of 54,916.

These elections were also a win for smaller regional parties, which increased their number of voters since the last elections. The regional parties Soria ¡Ya! and Union del Pueblo Leones won three seats each. In contrast, the neo-communist party Unidas Podemos and the neo-liberal party Ciudadanos, both which lost significant amounts of votes, reduced their representation to one seat each in the regional parliament. 

The elections were also a further loss for the centre-left Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (PSOE), which lost 117,613 votes and 7 parliamentary seats.

This vote followed the decision of Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, president of Castilla-León and a member of the PP, to call snap elections after rumours circulated that his government’s coalition partner, Ciudadanos, was planning to stage a no confidence vote. Ciudadanos has denied any plans to destabilise the government. 

Mañueco hoped to make the same play that Isabel Diaz Ayuso, also a PP regional president, had successfully used in the Madrid region in 2021 to secure a comfortable single party government with the support of VOX. The PP’s victory in Castilla-León was less resounding though, leaving open the possibility of having to form a coalition government with VOX. 

The campaign centred around rural development and agriculture. 

Bridget Ryder is Spain-based writer. She has written on politics, environment, and culture for American and international publications. She holds degrees in Spanish and Catholic Studies.

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