Spain Hands Sanchez a Win - Now Can He Govern?

(Bloomberg) --

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez scored a clear victory in Spain’s elections yesterday. But he fell just short of what he really wanted.

Beating back a challenge by parties that whipped up nationalist fervor after a separatist crisis over the Catalan region, his Socialists won 3 million votes more than the next political force.

That handed his traditional rival, the conservative People's Party, its worst result in history. It also kept the right-wing Vox, which clinched seats for the first time, from upsetting the political order – a good sign for mainstream politicians before next month's European Parliament elections.

But for all that, Sanchez may only muster perhaps 174 votes in the assembly if he works with his logical coalition partners. A majority is 176.

That means he needs help from either the Catalan separatists or the liberals of Ciudadanos. The former will set a high price for backing. And while the latter looks like a perfect fit with its mix of centrist economic policies, its leader has vowed not to help after a falling out over Catalonia’s independence vote that courts deemed illegal.

As he faces difficult horsetrading over forging a new alliance and the long hard work to heal the wounds of the Catalan crisis, he might be thinking how much trouble he’d have been saved with just two extra seats.

Spain Hands Sanchez a Win - Now Can He Govern?

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What to Watch

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And finally … Poland's first openly gay politician is vying to pull his country back into the European mainstream in fall elections, and away from the religious nationalism and homophobia that's taken hold under the conservative government. Opinion polls show Robert Biedron's Spring party with 15 percent support among voters, making it a natural partner for a pro-EU coalition that's hoping to unseat the populist ruling Law & Justice Party.

Spain Hands Sanchez a Win - Now Can He Govern?

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