The head of Spain’s centre-right Ciudadanos quit yesterday after voters deserted his party in droves, potentially easing the way for a PSOE Socialist-led government following the national election that produced another fragmented parliament.
The Socialists said they would to act fast to form a government after winning the most seats, though they ended on three fewer than they held after finishing first in the previous election in April.
The party’s leader, acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez, had gambled on a repeat ballot to try to break the political deadlock that ensued after he failed to agree an alliance with left-wing Unidas Podemos.
Overall, a polarised electorate awarded neither right nor left-wing parties enough seats to govern with a majority in Sunday’s ballot, Spain’s fourth since 2015.
However, the outcome – played out against a tense backdrop overshadowed by the violence-tinged secessionist crisis in Catalonia and a sharp rise in support for far-right Vox – has left Spain’s political landscape even more fragmented.
The Socialists immediately ruled out a grand coalition with the conservative People’s Party (PP), which finished second.
But the resignation of Albert Rivera – whose market-friendly Ciudadanos shrank to just 10 parliamentary seats from 57 in April as Vox rose to 52 from 24 – could offer Sanchez a helping hand.
Rivera took a hardline stance against cooperating with him following April’s election, but others in his party are more open to cooperation.