Legislative election in Spain – 26 June 2016

New legislative elections will be held in Spain on 26 June 2016. In early May, King Felipe VI of Spain signed a decree to dissolve the Parliament and hold a rerun of national elections. This step followed months of political paralysis and discord over who should form a government after inconclusive elections in December 2015.

The results of that election led for the first time since the return to democracy in Spain in the late 70s to the end of the classical two-party system involving the centre-right Partido Popular (PP – ‘Popular Party’) and the centre-left Partido Socialista (PSOE – ‘Socialist Party’) that had previously dominated Spanish politics and government formation. Two new parties have burst onto the political scene: Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) and Podemos (‘We can’). The Library has already touched on this new political panorama in a previous blog post – Reading suggestions in view of the Spanish elections.


No party emerged from the December elections with a clear majority, and the subsequent, four-month-long negotiations were fruitless. Neither an alliance of the right between PP and Ciudadanos, nor of the left between PSOE and Podemos, not even a less natural one between the Socialists and Ciudadanos, could be forged to reach the magic number of 176 seats (the Spanish Congress of Deputies has 350 seats) necessary to form a majority that would support a candidate for the post of Prime Minister.

As for the new election, the official electoral campaign that started at midnight yesterday will be shorter than usual, as the result of an agreement between the political parties to economise.

The latest official opinion poll shows that the overall distribution of support for centre-right and centre-left parties would be very similar to six months ago, and again there would be no clear natural majority allowing the formation of a government. There would be one difference however: for the first time since the return to democracy, PSOE wouldn’t finish first or second in the race, but third behind Unidos podemos (‘Together we can’), the new coalition between Podemos and Izquierda Unida (IU – ‘United left’), the heirs of the former Communist Party.

But this time Spanish political leaders will need to demonstrate better negotiation skills, having openly admitted that a third election is not something that could be envisaged…

More literature on Spanish politics and other member states, and EU-related topics can be found via the Library catalogue.

The Library is open to all staff of the Council of the European Union and the European Council, trainees, Permanent Representations of Member States, staff of other EU institutions and bodies, as well as to researchers and students (on appointment by e-mail at library@consilium.europa.eu). Access to some Library stock might be restricted to on-site consultation.

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