Six months after an historic election that fractured Spain’s traditional two-party system but failed to produce a government, Spanish voters returned to the polls Sunday and, in an unexpected move, turned away from the two upstart parties that had burst onto the national scene in the December polls. Just days after the seismic shock of Brexit, Spain turned back to the safety of the known. The big beneficiary of the return to tradition was acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose center-right Partido Popular (PP) won 33% of the vote for 147 seats in the 350 deputy parliament, recovering 14 of the 63 seats it had lost in December and making it the only party that gained both seats and votes (almost 700,000) in the election.
Just after midnight, Rajoy stepped onto the balcony of PP headquarters in Madrid as a crowd of supporters mockingly chanted the “Sí se puede” (roughly, “Yes we can”) slogan of Unidos Podemos, the left wing coalition that had claimed it would dethrone Rajoy.
“We have won the elections. But now we have to be useful to 100% of the Spanish people. We demand the right to govern Spain,” he said in a speech that, while short, still managed to sound rambling. “Starting tomorrow we have to begin to speak with everyone. And we will. Viva España!”