At the November 10 Spanish election, national left-wing parties won 158 of the 350 lower house seats, and national right-wing parties 151. The remaining 41 seats went to mostly left-wing regionalist parties. This election was required because the major left-wing parties (the Socialists and Podemos) were unable to agree to form a government after the April election. This time there was an agreement between these two parties.
In Spain, a first round absolute majority is required (176 votes) at the PM’s investiture vote. If there is no absolute majority, a second vote is held at which only a simple majority – more Ayes than Noes – is needed.
Owing to abstentions from two regionalist parties, Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez had 166 votes in favour of him becoming PM and 165 opposed at the January 5 first round vote. As the Aye votes were short of the 176 absolute majority, a second round was held January 7. Sánchez won this second vote by 167 to 165.
Sánchez is now officially Spain’s PM, but his situation is precarious. He needs the regionalist parties to keep behaving to stay in government
Left wins Croatian presidency
The Croatian presidential election was held over two rounds – December 22 and January 5. In the December 22 first round vote, the centre-left Zoran Milanović won 29.6%, the conservative incumbent Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović 26.7% and the far-right Miroslav Škoro 24.5%. As right-wing candidates won a majority of the overall vote, Grabar-Kitarović was expected to win the runoff.
However, despite his low winning vote share in the first round, Milanović won the January 5 runoff by a 52.7% to 47.3% margin. It is likely that Škoro voters strongly supported Grabar-Kitarović, but that voters for all other first round candidates resoundingly backed Milanović.
While this is a good outcome for the left, the Croatian PM is far more important than the president. A parliamentary election is due by late 2020. A conservative government is currently in office.
Austria: conservative/green coalition government formed
Austria uses national proportional representation with a 4% threshold. At the September 29 election, the conservative ÖVP won 71 of the 183 seats, the centre-left SPÖ 40, the far-right FPÖ 31, the Greens 26 and the liberal Neos 15. To exceed the 92 seats needed for a majority, the ÖVP required any of the SPÖ, FPÖ or Greens to form a coalition.
The FPÖ was blamed for the breakdown of the previous conservative government, which resulted in this election being held three years early. It also lost 20 seats at this election, while the Greens re-entered parliament after falling below the 4% threshold in 2017.
On January 1, three months after the election, the ÖVP and Green leaders announced they had agreed to form a governing coalition. The agreement includes a pledge for Austria to become carbon-neutral by 2040, but also a tough stance on illegal immigration and cuts to corporate and income taxes.
On January 4, the agreement was overwhelmingly endorsed by Greens delegates. On January 7, the new government was sworn in. While this election was not good for the left, the far-right is not part of the Austrian government.
Israel: Netanyahu easily wins Likud primary
As no Israeli government could be formed after either the April or September 2019 elections, there will be a third election in a year on March 2.
After the most recent failure to form government, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu was challenged for leadership of his Likud party by Gideon Sa’ar. The primary was held on December 26 among Likud members. Netanyahu crushed Sa’ar by 72.5% to 27.5%, and will lead Likud into the March election.
Polling for the election suggests that the opposition Blue & White is ahead of Likud, but will not have enough support from other left-wing parties to form a government. With Yisrael Beiteinu unwilling to work with either Likud or Blue & White, the deadlock may not be broken.
Switzerland: Greens fail to win seat on executive council
I wrote about the Greens surge at the October Swiss election previously. Switzerland uses a seven-member executive council, rather than a single PM or president who wields executive power. These seven members are supposed to roughly reflect the overall composition of parliament. But despite the Greens’ gains at the election, they failed to win a Council seat at the December 11 Council election.