Spain votes in wide-open election after tense campaign
After a tense campaign dominated by issues such as national identity and gender equality, the likelihood that any coalition deal will take weeks or months to be brokered will feed into a broader mood of political uncertainty across Europe.
At least five parties from across the political spectrum have a chance of being in government and they could struggle to agree on a deal between them, meaning a repeat election is one of several possible outcomes.
A few things are clear, however, based on opinion polls and conversations with party insiders.
No single party will get a majority; the Socialist party of outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is leading the race; and there will be lawmakers from the far-right Vox party.
Beyond that, the result is too close to call.
Voting started at 9 am (0700 GMT) and ends at 8 pm in mainland Spain for what will be the country’s third national election in four years, each of which has brought a further dislocation of the political landscape.
“After many years of instability and uncertainty, it’s important that today we send a clear, defined message about the Spain we want.
“And from there a broad parliamentary majority must be built that can support a stable government,” Sanchez told reporters after voting in a polling station near Madrid.
It is uncertain if Sanchez will manage to stay in office and how many allies he would need to gather together in order to do so.
If, in addition to far-left anti-austerity party Podemos and other small parties, Sanchez also needs the support of Catalan separatist lawmakers, talks will be long and their outcome unclear.
Opinion polls, which ended on Monday, have suggested it will be harder for a right wing split between three parties – the centre-right Ciudadanos, conservative People’s Party (PP) and Vox – to clinch a majority.
But this scenario is within polls’ margin of error and cannot be ruled out.
Voting in Barcelona, Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera renewed calls to oust Sanchez, whose more conciliatory tone toward Catalan separatists has angered the right, which called Sanchez a “traitor” throughout a campaign often dominated by the secession crisis.
“These are not any normal elections. At stake is whether we want to remain united, if we want to continue being free and equal citizens, if we want a Spain that looks to the past or the future, a country of extremes or of moderation,” Rivera told reporters after casting his ballot.
With the trauma of military dictatorship under Francisco Franco, who died in 1975, still fresh in the memory for its older generation, Spain had long been seen as resistant to the wave of nationalist, populist parties spreading across much of Europe.
Some voters still stood by this. “I’m more of a Ciudadanos or PP voter but I’m so scared of Vox that I voted for the left-wing bloc, for the Socialists,” Julio Cesar Galdon, a 27-year-old political science graduate said after voting in central Madrid.
But this time Vox will get seats, boosted by voter discontent with traditional parties, its focus on widespread anger at Catalonia’s independence drive, and non-mainstream views that include opposing a law on gender violence it says discriminates against men.
One of several unknowns is how big an entry Vox will make in parliament’s lower house, with opinion polls having given a wide range of forecasts and struggled to pin down the party’s voter base.
“I voted Vox,” said Pedro, a 57-year-old civil servant who used to vote centre-right but changed his mind this time.
“This campaign has been different. There are two sides, one fighting more for the interests of Spaniards and another fighting for its own interest,” he said while voting in Madrid, adding that he preferred not to give his full name.
The high number of undecided voters – in some surveys as many as four in 10 – has also complicated the task of predicting the outcome, as have the intricacies of a complex electoral system under which 52 constituencies elect 350 lawmakers.
That system is untested in Spain’s new political era, marked by the definitive end of the long-held dominance of the PP and the Socialists.
Voters in the depopulating rural heartlands – many of whom are old and may well feel little direct connection to the country’s young, male, urban political elite – are of particular importance.
They proportionally elect more lawmakers than the inhabitants of big cities, but at the same time the cut-off point for parliamentary representation there is trickier to reach, making the outcome harder to predict the more parties there are.
Another unknown is the impact of two televised debates early in the week. They may well influence the outcome in a country where a small difference in votes can make a huge difference in terms of seats.
While Vox’s leader was excluded from the TV debates, which analysts said could help his narrative of being against “the system”, Sanchez was rather subdued and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, whose party was struggling in polls, was considered by many as having given a strong performance.
“I believe we achieved something important for everyone, regardless of their politics, by debating ideas and rejecting insult, tension and over-reaction,” Iglesias said of his party’s campaign after voting on Sunday morning.https://nnn.ng/spain-votes-in-wide-open-election-after-tense-campaign/
COVID-19: PTF warns against neglect of protocols
He said that there were increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven to be very successful.
He said face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era.
Mustapha, however, called for vigilance in order to forestall any danger of second wave of the pandemic as the countries in Europe were currently facing.
According to him, the call for greater vigilance is underscored by the fact that our economy has been seriously affected by the pandemic and we are pushing through our home-grown economic recovery strategies to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
” Also, our health systems, in spite of its fragility, have been able to withstand and contain cases resulting from COVID-19 infection, where those of more advanced countries have been overwhelmed.
“This call is made more pertinent in view of the noticeably increasing disregard for basic non-pharmaceutical measures that have proven very successful.
“Face masks have now been turned into chin masks, social distancing and gatherings are returning to the pre-COVID era,” he said.
Speaking on the second wave of the virus across the world, the PTF chairman said, “Israel has re-introduced a three-week lockdown, the United Kingdom was considering another lockdown phase, Spain was enforcing a partial lockdown in Madrid and France – amidst protests by its citizens.
“They have also introduced stricter measures to contain the virus. Similar stories are coming from South Korea, Iran and the number of fatalities is approaching 200,000 in the USA.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO), has advised that everybody should learn from lessons of the first wave, especially as ‘no one is safe until everyone is safe’.
“Let me share with you a global picture to buttress the foregoing. Over the last three days, the global cases passed the 31 million mark and it took only four days to get there from the 30th million.
“The USA crossed 7 million cases and continues to report a high daily caseload of over 30, 000 daily. We continue to see highest daily numbers from India.
“More specifically, the lesson for us in Nigeria, is that in spite of appreciable progress recorded, we should be vigilant more than ever before, because we have opened our air spaces to international travels, we have relaxed a number of restrictions in opening up more sectors of the economy and schools are beginning to open in varying degrees.”
On the reopening of airports for international travels, Mustapha noted that the PTF would continue to work with partners from the private sector to fine tune the protocols for international travellers, especially those arriving in Nigeria.
He, however, urged all travellers to ensure that they complete all pre-boarding and post-arrival processes, especially on the portal to facilitate seamless arrivals at the airports.
“We cannot afford the importation of the virus.
“We appeal strongly to all Nigerians to persuade their relations arriving Nigeria to self-isolate upon arrival, as required and test on day seven as prescribed,”
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Italy introduces compulsory virus testing for travellers from France
Italy on Monday announced compulsory virus testing for anyone wishing to enter the country from Paris or other parts of France with high rates of coronavirus infection.
Explaining the decision on Facebook, Health Minister Roberto Speranza wrote that the situation in Europe “cannot be underestimated” and called for “great caution.”
“Italy today is doing better than other countries, but great caution is still required in order not to jeopardize the efforts made until now,” he wrote.
Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the pandemic but, after a severe health emergency in March and April, it brought infection rates under control in the following months.
However, virus numbers have crept up again since the second half of July and, with the reopening of schools this month, fears of a possible second wave of infections have increased.
By comparison, Spain has had 300.5, France 192.5 and Germany 25.9.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Felix Ajide
Rubiales re-elected Spanish football federation president
Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) president Luis Rubiales has been re-elected unopposed, with a new four-year mandate, the federation said on Monday.
Spain’s former World Cup-winning captain Iker Casillas withdrew his candidacy in June, citing the coronavirus pandemic as a reason.
The federation announced the news on Twitter and posted reactions from other football officials, including FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“Congratulations Luis, I want to thank you and the RFEF for all the work done in the last few years, but above all, in the last few months,” said Infantino.
Rubiales, 43, took over from Angel Maria Villar in May 2018, who was sacked following corruption charges.
Born in Las Palmas, Rubiales played for several lower league clubs after coming through the Valencia and Atletico Madrid youth systems.
He finished his playing career in 2009 with Hamilton Academical in Scotland.
One of his first decisions as RFEF president was to sack then Spain coach Julen Lopetegui ahead of the 2018 World Cup, after Real Madrid announced him as their next manager.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Suarez ends Barca contract, agrees terms with Atletico Madrid
FC Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has agreed a deal with the club to end his contract and settled on personal terms with Atletico Madrid, according to reports in Spain on Monday.
The Catalans’ third top goalscorer of all time was told he was not wanted by new FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman and has been looking for a new club.
The 33-year-old Suarez, who has one year to run on his FC Barcelona contract, agreed a deal with the club to cut it short, the reports said.
A newspaper, Mundo Deportivo, said Suarez has fixed a contract with Atletico Madrid for two seasons, although the club will need to lighten their wage bill to accommodate the Uruguayan.
Media reports in Italy also say Juventus are in talks with Atletico Madrid to re-sign Spain striker Alvaro Morata.
Suarez had been heavily linked with Juventus, but coach Andrea Pirlo said it was unlikely he would come to Italy because of the difficulty in obtaining an EU passport.
The striker finished as Barca’s second-highest scorer last season behind captain Lionel Messi and scored 198 goals in 283 games for Barca, after joining in 2014 from Liverpool.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)