Spain calls snap elections for April 28
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has called a snap general election for April 28.
Sánchez made the announcement at a press conference in Madrid on Friday, saying: “I have informed the King. I will dissolve Congress and call for elections for the 28th of April.”
The announcement comes two days after his Socialist government suffered a defeat in Parliament after failing to get its 2019 budget passed.
Spain’s electorate is also set to vote in a series of local and European elections in May.
A busy electoral year follows on from December 2018 regional elections in the southern province of Andalucia, in which the far-right Vox party unexpectedly won 12 seats.
The results broke new political ground in Spain, marking the first time that a far-right party recorded such electoral success since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
Vox has attracted voters with its hard-line stance on immigration, its opposition to Catalan independence and its calls for Gibraltar to be returned to Spain.
Following the election, the party negotiated to form a right-wing coalition with the Partido Popular, which now runs Andalucia’s regional government.
That agreement rests on a number of conditions imposed by Vox, including a proposal to deport 52,000 “illegal immigrants.”
“It’s an agreement between right-wing forces and the extreme right, which is being sanitized,” a spokesperson for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, which had been in power in Andalucia for 36 years until the December elections, told CNN in January.
The party’s success in Andalucia has sparked fears that the far-right could extend its influence to the national level.
Early opinion polls suggest the elections could result in a right-wing majority in parliament, including Vox, according to AFP.
The campaign for independence in Catalonia looks set to be a major election issue.
Sanchez and his Socialist government have attempted to negotiate with the separatists, sparking opposition from right-wing parties.
The movement for Catalan independence came to a recent head in the fall of 2017 when separatist leaders triggered a standoff with Madrid after attempting to push forward with the region’s secession, sparking the country’s worst political crisis since the restoration of democracy in the 1970s.
Despite warnings from the national administration in Madrid that any vote would be unconstitutional, Catalonia went ahead with a referendum, which saw 90% vote in favor of independence, but turnout was low and marred by a violent police crackdown.
In mid-February, the trial of 12 Catalan leaders on charges of rebellion and violating court orders, among others, began at the Supreme Court in Madrid.