Left Menu
Development News Edition

European socialists smell comeback in Spanish victory

Reuters | Updated: 01-05-2019 12:31 IST | Created: 01-05-2019 11:30 IST
European socialists smell comeback in Spanish victory
Image Credit: Flickr

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's election victory delivered a shot in the arm for Europe's struggling left, which fears a surge by the right in this month's European parliament elections.

The Spanish Socialists' gains on Sunday were a relief for their counterparts elsewhere on the continent who have watched the rise of nationalism and far-right parties in recent years and erosion of belief in Brussels and EU integration. "To Europeans, I say that social democracy has a great future because it has a great present and Spain is an example of that," Sanchez told supporters on election night. "We formed a pro-European government to strengthen, not weaken, Europe."

While it did not win a parliamentary majority, Sanchez's centre-left party increased its seats in parliament by almost 50 percent and beat back the traditional conservative Popular Party (PP). Vox became the first far-right party to win several seats in parliament since the 1970s, but with 10 percent of the national vote, it fell short of expectations.

"This is a victory for solidarity, fairness, dialogue, equality, sustainability," tweeted Frans Timmermans, a Dutch Socialist running for a seat in the European Parliament on May 26. "This is what many Europeans crave." European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, a French Socialist, congratulated Sanchez, tweeting that Spain had chosen the European reformist left. "That's the way to go!," he said.

"His (Sanchez's) victory shows that you can count on social democrats in Europe," German SPD head Ortsverein Achim told Reuters. The term social democracy is widely used in continental Europe to describe leftist and centre-leftist parties that believe in tempering the effects of free markets with strong welfare policies.

Slow recovery from the eurozone debt crisis has threatened Europe's efforts at closer integration and cooperation in the past few years and helped populist rightists take advantage of dissatisfaction with Brussels. Such sentiment was seen in Britain's 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU and in the sharp decline of the traditional left in France and Italy. Italy's centre-left Democratic Party took a drubbing in 2018 elections, winning just 19 percent, as the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League took power. In France, the Socialists' support has collapsed to about five percent since Emmanuel Macron came to power in 2017, leaving it as a minor party.

Germany has been governed by conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel for years. HOPING SPAIN LEADS THE WAY

European social democrat leaders who called to congratulate Sanchez saw his victory as a success for European socialists and hoped it would improve their chances at the May 23-26 European Parliament elections, according to a source at the prime minister's office. "This is the best news that the social democrats have received in a long time," said Ignacio Molina, a researcher at think tank Elcano.

Spain could become the country with the most members of the European parliament's Socialist bloc, depending on what happens with Britain's departure. That is likely to make Madrid a more important player, in policies that matter to Spain, such as migration, banking union and climate action, as well as in the choice of the new European Commission.

"We will be decisive in the choice of the new European Commission head," said Jonas Fernandez, a Socialist member of the European Parliament. The social democrats' comeback may have started in Spain's Iberian neighbour, Portugal.

Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa has governed Portugal since 2015 with the support of far-left parties. Having delivered strong growth and rolled back austerity since the debt crisis, Costa is now close to winning a majority at a general election in the autumn, according to opinion polls. Elsewhere along Europe's edges, Sweden, Slovakia and Malta are also led by socialists, while Greece and Romania have left-wing leaders. The centre-left Social Democrats won Finland's election last month and in Denmark polls show socialists leading ahead of elections.

But the question remains whether this will lead to a shift in Europe's bigger countries. For now, at least, there is more hope for left and centre-left parties ahead of the European elections. "Now we know that we are not alone in our effort to defend and change Europe," said Pierfrancesco Majorino, a candidate from Italy's centre-left Democratic Party for the European parliament.

Opinion polls show the PD neck-and-neck with the 5-Star Movement at around 23 percent each. In France, Sanchez could lead as an example.

"We need to see a big surge on the left that counterbalances the nationalists and the liberals," said French Socialist leader Olivier Faure. "The Socialists are showing a rebirth in Spain after being mocked and given up for dead."


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Domestic seafood trade in focus as COVID-19 changes market dynamics

As predicted earlier in a report titled Seafood industry post-COVID 19 An overhaul to trigger the growth of small fisheries, one of the changes going ahead would be increased focus on domestic seafood trade, driven by falling exports and su...

Migration post-COVID 19: Taking cues from the past to rebuild economies

Migrants are an irreplaceable part of even the essential workforce of developed countries and are on the frontline in the fight against the crisis, making an immeasurable contribution to saving the lives of natives with voting rights....

Socialization Post-COVID-19: Local associations and online groups to play crucial role

Though every age group is suffering due to the global lockdown caused by the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges before adolescents are unique. Their social space has shrunk drastically, besides, they have become highly vulnerable to ...

Pharma post-COVID 19: Reducing political clout can alter business models

Powerful governments that have historically supported the pharma industry in enforcing global intellectual property rules are changing course and introducing legislation that can override normal patent rights during emergencies....

Videos

Latest News

Hockey-Indian Olympic great Balbir Singh dies aged 95

Indias three-time Olympic gold medallist Balbir Singh has died at the age of 95 after a prolonged pulmonary illness. Singh helped India win its first Olympic gold as an independent country at the 1948 London Games when they beat Britain 4-0...

China says to take action if U.S. undermines its interests in Hong Kong

China warned on Monday that it will take countermeasures if the United States insists on undermining its interests regarding Hong Kong, following the latest comments from Washington about possible sanctions over new national security legisl...

Iranian fuel tanker has moored at Venezuela's El Palito refinery - TV

The first of five Iranian tankers carrying fuel to Venezuela has moored at Venezuelas El Palito refinery, Irans English-language Press TV reported on Monday.Iran is providing Venezuela with 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and components in...

16 more coronavirus cases in UP's Basti district

Sixteen people, who returned from Maharashtra in the last one week, have tested positive for coronavirus in Uttar Pradeshs Basti district, taking the number of cases to 141, officials said on Monday. All the 16 patients were under quarantin...

Give Feedback