Spain’s conservative Popular Party made important gains in local and regional elections on Sunday, offering a sobering gauge of public sentiment toward the left-wing coalition in power ahead of December’s general election.
In the local elections, the Popular Party obtained 31.5% of the votes compared to 28.2% of those obtained by the Socialist Workers Party, or PSOE, which leads the central government, with more than 97% of the votes counted, according to the results published by the Ministry of the Interior. It was a decrease of 1.2 percentage points for the PSOE in 2019, but an increase of almost 9 points for the PP, which benefited from the collapse of the centrist Ciudadanos party.
The PP also dominated several regions that had previously been won by the PSOE, such as Valencia, Aragón and La Rioja. Spanish regional governments have enormous power and budgetary discretion in education, health, housing and police.
The party also wrested major cities such as Valencia and Seville from the PSOE and won an absolute majority in the race for mayor of the capital, Madrid.
The far-right Vox party more than doubled its percentage of councillors, to 7.2%, meaning it will have significant influence on politics in cities where the PP will need their votes.
More than 35 million people had the right to vote in the municipal elections. Participation was 63.9%, slightly lower than in 2019 on a day of torrential rains for some parts of the country.