Spain’s Socialists fail to form government; Ukraine landslide for Zelensky’s party; Japan upper house elections

In a rare piece of good news for the left, the Spanish Socialists won the April 28 election. The Socialists won 123 of the 350 seats, the right-wing Popular Party (PP) 66, the right-leaning Citizens 57, the far-left Podemos 42 and the far-right Vox 24. Although the Socialists and Podemos, with 165 combined seats, did not reach the 176 needed for a majority, the assumption was that the Socialists would be able to govern with support from Podemos and left-wing separatist parties.

On July 25, Podemos abstained from a confidence vote in Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, causing the vote to be lost by 155 to 124 with 71 abstentions. There will be one more confidence vote in September, and if that is lost too, there must be an election. The disagreement between the Socialists and Podemos is due to assignations of cabinet positions between the two parties.

The lack of cooperation between the Socialists and Podemos means the left may have blown a rare triumph. Had Podemos voted with the Socialists, the confidence vote would have been won by 166 to 155.

Zelensky’s party easily wins Ukraine parliamentary elections

On April 21, Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian who was best known for acting as the Ukraine president in a TV series called Servant of the People, defeated conservative incumbent Petro Poroshenko in the Ukrainian presidential election by a crushing margin of 73% to 24%.

In his inaugural address in May, Zelensky dissolved parliament for early elections on July 21; these had been scheduled to occur in late October. 225 of the 450 seats were elected by national proportional representation with a 5% threshold, and the remaining 225 by single member electorates. Owing to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, 26 electorates did not vote.

Zelensky’s Servant of the People party won 124 of the 225 seats from proportional representation, with the next highest party winning just 37 seats. Servant of the People won 130 of the 199 electorates that could vote, for a total of 254 of the 424 members returned. Even if the Crimean electorates are included, Servant of the People won a convincing majority. Zelensky supports the Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union and NATO.

Conservative majority slightly reduced in Japan’s upper house elections

Elections for 124 of the 245 Japanese upper house seats were held on July 21 for a six-year term. The conservative LDP won 57 of these 124 seats and their Komeito allies won 14 seats, for an overall LDP/Komeito total of 71 seats. The centre-left Democratic Party was the next highest, but with just 17 seats.

Overall, the LDP and Komeito hold a clear majority of 141 of the 245 upper house seats, though this was down nine seats The Democratic Party holds just 32 seats. The LDP and Komeito combined hold 314 of the 465 lower house seats after easily winning the October 2017 election; the next election is due by October 2021.