Boost for Spanish right as socialists lose ground

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative Popular Party maintained its absolute majority in Galicia and limited its losses in the Basque Country. Picture; Getty

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative Popular Party maintained its absolute majority in Galicia and limited its losses in the Basque Country. Picture; Getty

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Acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party has received a boost in Spain’s regional elections, while the opposition Socialists lost ground.

People in the Basque and Galicia regions voted for 75-seat regional parliaments, but the results failed to indicate a clear path forward to ending the country’s prolonged political stalemate.

Mr Rajoy has been running a caretaker government for almost a year after two inconclusive rounds of national elections in December and June. The conservatives won the most seats in both elections, but were unable to form a governing coalition.

In Galicia, the Popular Party won a majority of seats, with 41, while the Basque Nationalist Party won 29. The Basque party won the most seats in the Basque region.

The Socialist Party lost seats in both regions. The results could cause them to abstain in a parliamentary vote of confidence that would allow Mr Rajoy to form a minority government.

The Popular Party hopes the strong showing in Galicia could demonstrate that his party enjoys the support of the conservative electorate, despite recent corruption scandals.

Mr Rajoy has the support of 170 MPs in the 350-seat national parliament, but is still six short of the majority needed to form a government. The Basque Nationalist Party holds five seats and their support would leave him needing just one more vote or an abstention.

But the Basque party’s results in their regional elections make it unlikely that it would support Mr Rajoy.

Aside from Spain’s traditional socialist and conservative parties, the business-friendly Ciudadanos and left-wing Podemos parties have sprung up in recent years, winning third and fourth place respectively in parliament.

Spain has never had a coalition government, and the country’s main parties are struggling with the idea of negotiating deals in an arena with new political powers. Parliament has until 31 October to form a minority government or the country will face its third election in a year.

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