Spanish PM’s Party Leads Regional Vote

Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Mariano RajoySpain’s Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

The center-right People’s Party is projected to win an overall majority in Galicia’s regional parliament while Basque Nationalist Party looks set to win the vote in its region.

The elections in the northern regions of Galicia and the Basque Country were dubbed as potential game-changers to break the political deadlock at the national level, but Sunday’s results failed to significantly change the balance of power in Spain.

With 45.5% of the votes counted in Galicia, the People’s Party was expected to win 41 out of 75 seats in the regional parliament, according to exit polls. The populist Podemos movement also performed well, securing 19.5% of the vote and beating the Socialists, who won 18.9%, DPA reported.

In the Basque Country, the Basque Nationalist Party, which has been ruling the region since 2012, was projected to win 27-30 seats in the 75-strong parliament.

Basque Separatists are on course to win at least 16 seats, followed by Podemos on 13-15. The Socialists came fourth with eight to 10 seats.

Spain has not had a functioning government for almost nine months. The regional elections were expected to break the political stalemate in Madrid. But Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy would be satisfied with his party’s success in Galicia, where it has been in power for four years.

In both regions, the 137-year-old social democrats lost significant votes to the newcomer anti-austerity Podemos.

The results will make the task of forming a coalition with Podemos harder for the Socialists’ leader Pedro Sanchez. The party’s poor showing in Galicia and Basque Country could also reopen an internal leadership debate.

The Socialists hold a leadership conference on October 1 to review their position on coalition talks in Madrid. The party opposes Rajoy’s second term as prime minister in a minority PP-led government but also cannot form a government on its own.

Two national elections in December 2015 and June this year did not give any party a clear mandate to rule the country. A third election could be called later this year if the major parties fail to form a government before the October 31 deadline.

Opinion polls show that a third election is likely to favor the PP.