Castilla y León elections: PP wins but is in Vox's hands

Mañueco falls short of absolute majority and the far right will demand to enter government

4 min
The PP candidate for the presidency of the Junta de Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco.

MadridThe move did not go as the PP wanted. Alfonso Fernández Mañueco won the elections in Castilla y León yesterday and stay in government, but he is far from attaining an absolute majority and is left in Vox's hands. Vox leader Santiago Abascal said yesterday that he will demand to form a coalition –it would be the first government which Vox is part of in the State-. "Vox has the right and the duty to form a government in Castilla y León", he assured, after pointing out Vox candidate Juan García-Gallardo's "increasingly vice-presidential looks". Vox is the party that benefitted the most from the snap election, going up from a single seat to 13. This gives the far right party a strong position to negotiate a coalition with the PP. This increase is proportional to the fall of Ciudadanos, which went from 12 seats to only one.

The PP (31 seats) will not have enough with Vox's abstention, since all other parties have a combined total of 37 seats. The socialist candidate, Luis Tudanca, lost seven seats, from 35 to 28. Aware of the role that the citizens of Castilla y León have given Vox, Abascal already made a first move yesterday. In another scenario he could have opted to condition governability from outside government, as he has done so far in Andalusia and Madrid. But his negotiating strength has grown, especially taking into account that soon there will be elections in Andalusia again and next year there will be elections in twelve other regions.

The results

Mañueco will talk "with everyone"

The winner of the elections, however, did not give so many clues. Mañueco asserted that there will be a "PP government with dialogue and agreement" and explained that he will initiate a round of contacts with all political parties, from highest to lowest number of seats. Thus, the first will be the PSOE. During the campaign, Mañueco already hinted that he could reach some kind of pact with the Socialists and thus pass the bucket to Tudanca, who would have to decide whether he is willing to reach an agreement to keep Vox out of government. However, Socialists' number 2, Adriana Lastra, warned yesterday that "there is no alternative" to a government of PP and Vox. Thinking about the future, it is in the interest of the socialists that voters are clear about this alliance.

Pablo Casado's party was hoping to reach an absolute majority –41 seats– with the snap election. At the PP's Madrid headquarters there was optimism when, at the beginning of the count, the PP was close to 40 seats. The counting had been completed in rural areas, but the votes in the big cities had yet to be counted. The trend began to change, with the PP losing seats to PSOE. However, the Socialists have lost seven seats compared to 2019, so the setback is significant. The PP was looking to win comfortably and only went up two seats, despite registering a slight drop in its share of the vote. Of the nine provinces in Castilla y León, PP won in four, PSOE won in anotehr four and Soria ¡Ya! wins in the only province where it was running.

PP candidate Alfonso Fernández Mañueco.

Mañueco said the snap election was to avoid a vote of no confidence by PSOE and Ciudadanos that could have made his government fall. But, with these results in hand, would he have rethought it? The PP candidate will be able to keep the presidency but it is still uncertain whether he will be able to form a solo government or will have to go into coalition with Vox. However, it seems it is national PP leader Casado who takes the hit of the undesired outcome. He hoped PSOE would take a big hit as happened in the Madrid snap elections last year. Pedro Sánchez does not come out of this election as weakened as expected because he did not participate in the campaign as much as Casado did. Casado also wanted to finish off Ciudadanos and, despite only holding out with only one representative, Francisco Igea avoids being completely wiped out. However, the until recently vice-president is now marginalised in parliament.

Provincial parties grow

The autonomic chamber will be characterized, as has been a tendency in the State for some years, by fragmentation: there will be eight parties, one more than in the previous legislature, as a result of the irruption of Soria ¡Ya!, the only platform of the emptied Spain that obtains representation. It does so by winning in the province of Soria with about 42% of the votes and taking three seats. Unión del Pueblo Leonés goes from one to three and Por Ávila keeps the seat it had.

Finally, Unidas Podemos is another of the losers of the night and only obtains one seat, one fewer than it already had. Castilla y León is not a favorable territory for the left wing party and its new leader, Yolanda Díaz, did not want to get involved in order not to be exposed. On the other hand, the 63.4% turnout was only slightly below 2019 figures despite being the first regional elections in Castilla y León which do not coincide with local or European elections.

Casado's first round against Sánchez ends with a minimal victory and a more sour than sweet aftertaste for the leader of the PP, who is with each passing day is more dependent on Vox.