Carles Puigdemont could be granted more leverage when oversea votes have been counted (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


Overseas votes could tip the balance in Spanish government negotiations


Spain has started counting votes from its Embassies and Consulates abroad on July 28, votes that could alter the results of the Spanish general election.

Spaniards overseas could influence negotiations between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the separatist and regional-nationalist parties from Catalonia and the Basque Country.

The votes are being counted in the provinces where citizens abroad are registered in Spain. Authorities from Spain’s Central Electoral Board said on July 28 that 233,688 had voted abroad in this election: 10 per cent of Spain’s overseas citizens.

Some 18.8 per cent of the foreign-based votes come from London, even though the largest share of eligible voters abroad are concentrated in Argentina, France and the United States.

Once all the votes are counted, the Central Electoral Board will announce the final official results. That process could stretch throughout the weekend of July 29-30.

Despite the relatively low participation rate of Spaniards abroad, analysts point out that up to nine seats in Spain’s Parliament could end up altered from the provisional results of the election. Given the fragile majorities each of the parliamentary blocs could build, those votes might determine the fate of the Spanish Government.

Currently, the bloc led by acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez totals 178 MPs. That meets the 176 absolute majority required to secure the premiership. That coalition would include Sanchez’s progressive ally Sumar and the four regional-nationalist parties from Catalonia and the Basque Country.

On the other side of the aisle, the Partido Popular (PP) won the most domestic votes and MPs but has a slim chance of forming a governing coalition. With Conservative party Vox and Navarre’s regional right-wing party, the would-be coalition totals 170 seats in Congress. The Basque nationalists refused PP leader Alberto Feijóo’s offer to negotiate and claimed they “ruined Feijóo’s investiture.”

The PSOE has won three of the past five Spanish general elections on votes from abroad. Some observers have said that this time, the overseas votes could work against the interests of the left-wing bloc. Feijóo’s PP is expecting to improve its results, although it seems unlikely it will obtain enough MPs to drastically change its current prospects.

Others speculate that a slightly better result for Feijóo could make Sánchez need not just the abstention of the Catalonian separatists but their active favourable vote.

That would give Spanish exile and Waterloo-based MEP Carles Puigdemont more leverage, many feel, and put the PSOE in a difficult position that could lead to a re-casting of the general election outcome.