Spain’s conservatives strike huge win in southern Andalusia

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BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s traditional conservatives scored a huge win in Andalusia on Sunday, claiming an absolute majority in the legislature that will save it from needing the support of the far-right to govern the nation’s most populous region.

With 99% of the votes counted, the Popular Party headed by Juanma Moreno will keep his regional presidency of Andalusia’s government by securing 58 seats in the regional parliament, three more than the 55 needed for the absolute majority. That was up from just 26 seats won in 2018 when Moreno came to power via a coalition that ended over three-decades of Socialist rule.

The commanding victory will ensure that Moreno does not have to rely on the far-right Vox party, which had said it would support Moreno if it were given a share of the government.

Moreno led a right-center coalition government for the previous four years after right-wing parties ended the Socialists’ 36-year hold of Andalusia. He was credited for running a successful campaign on a moderate platform, which included the defense of gender equality laws that Vox wants to strike down.

“We have made history,” Moreno told a large crowd in Seville. “(But) I want to start this new stage with humility. Because we in the PP Andalusia have lost many elections and are well trained in accepting results. With this dominant win, we want to remain serene and humble because that is our form of politics.”

The Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was unable to rebound and slipped from 33 seats in 2018 to 30.

More than 6,600,000 people had the right to vote in the election, which the Popular Party hopes will be a signal of what is to come in national elections that will have to be held before the end of 2023.

Sánchez will now be under even more pressure after his government has struggled to deal with the impact of rampant inflation that is threatening to damper an economic recovery from the pandemic.

It was the first election since Alberto Núñez Feijóo stepped in as the Popular Party’s leader in April after his predecessor was ousted following an ugly public spat with another party heavyweight, the outspoken and combative Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the regional leader of Madrid. Feijóo’s political style of casting a calm, yet serious persona focused on good governance meshes well with Moreno.

Vox had hoped to become a determinant force in the region where it won its first representation in a legislative body, but it could only increase its 12 seats from 2018 to 14 now. Vox entered a regional government for the first time earlier this year after the Popular Party needed it to remain in charge in Castilla y León.

The far-left parties corresponding to the United We Can party that is in a coalition at the national level with the Socialists won just seven seats, compared to the 17 it had.

The center-right Citizens party, which had been the junior member of Moreno’s government, continued its demise as a political force in Spain after failing to win a single seat four years after grabbing 21.

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