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In Spain’s elections on Sunday, there are 2 left-wing versus 2 right-wing parties. Here’s a look at the leaders

MADRID (AP) — Sunday’s Spanish elections will be a battle between two left-wing and two right-wing parties working together to form possible coalitions. Here’s a look at the four leaders of those parties.



Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s prime minister since 2018, is up for re-election with recent ballots and most polls against him.

The leader of the Socialist Party has steered Spain through the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a successful vaccination program and has tackled an inflation-driven economic downturn exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But his reliance on fringe parties, including separatist forces from Catalonia and the Basque Country, to keep his minority coalition afloat and his passing of a slew of liberal laws could cost him his job.

Sánchez, known for his dashing good looks and progressive credentials, including having more women than men in his cabinet and a strong track record in environmental policy, has boosted Spain’s status in Brussels. The 51-year-old also speaks fluent English, a skill his predecessors lacked.

But the early elections called after the Socialists and their far-left coalition partners took a beating in local and regional elections in May may be an all-or-nothing gamble.

Sánchez has embarked on a wave of interviews in Spanish media and has held rallies across Spain, hoping he can pull off another surprise and stay in office. His chances will depend on mobilizing a demoralized left.

Sánchez, a former basketball player and economics professor, has two daughters.



Tipped to lead his right-wing People’s Party to victory, Alberto Núñez Feijóo has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since taking charge of the party in April 2022 following an internal feud that toppled his predecessor, Pablo Casado.

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Feijóo, a former civil servant who won four consecutive regional elections in his native northwestern Galicia – a traditional stronghold of the People’s Party – was initially portrayed as a moderate.

But as elections are suddenly called and the far-right Vox party takes over, he has moved notably to the right, promising to repeal many of the left-wing government laws and be more aggressive in his campaign to oust Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Feijóo, 62, is accused of cheating on whether to form a coalition with Vox, lying about the People’s Party’s pension record and trying to downplay ties to a Spanish drug trafficker with whom he was photographed several years ago while sunbathing on a yacht.

Feijóo, bespectacled and with the appearance of a bank manager, is heir to the late Manuel Fraga, a fellow Galician and one-time top politician in Franco’s former dictatorship. Fraga founded Alianza Popular, the forerunner of the People’s Party.

Experts speak of Feijóo’s affable manner, sense of humor and talents as an organizer. But others say he displayed an exasperated and somewhat superior attitude when cornered by one of Spanish television’s top journalists, Silvia Intxaurrondo.

Feijóo also served as director of the state health service and the national postal service.

He and his partner have one child.



Santiago Abascal, the 47-year-old leader of the far-right Vox party, likes to call himself an outsider who has arrived on a mission to save the soul of Spain.

He was a lifelong member of Spain’s Popular Party until he broke with the Conservatives over what he perceived as their “cowardly” handling of the separatist movements in Catalonia and his native Basque Country. It was Catalonia’s failed farewell bid in 2017 that fueled Vox’s rise. It was founded in 2014 and entered the Spanish Parliament in 2019, when tensions were still widespread in the streets of Barcelona and across Catalonia.

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Bearded and barrel-chested, Abascal always wears suits when he attends Parliament. He embraces the classic, even kitsch, symbols of traditional Spanish culture.

As the country slowly turns away from bullfighting, he and Vox defend it. While most parties applaud Spain’s transition to democracy after Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in the late 1970s, Abascal defends the regime’s nationalist values. While the rest of Spain’s political parties unite against gender violence, Abascal’s Vox wants to repeal gender violence laws and denounces feminism. Critics also accuse him of scaremongering about unauthorized migration.

Add some mildly anti-European sentiment and Vox is linked to other far-right movements emerging in Europe.

Abascal is now on the cusp of what would be his greatest victory: becoming deputy prime minister of Spain and placing some of his other hardline cohorts in ministerial positions. To do this, Vox will probably have to remain the third largest force in the Spanish parliament and hope that the People’s Party wins the election, but does not get an absolute majority.

Abascal, who has a degree in sociology, has four children.



The only female of the four leading candidates in Sunday’s election, Yolanda Díaz, 52, is the daughter of working-class, union and anti-Franco dictatorship activists. She comes from the small northwestern Galician town of Fene.

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She has a dashing figure with her mane of dyed blond hair and stylish clothes. She was Minister of Labor and became Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s second Deputy Prime Minister in 2021.

A labor lawyer by training, she is known for her ability to negotiate agreements, such as the industrial peace deal she has negotiated with unions and business groups, as well as negotiating minimum wage increases and a special leave arrangement for companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

She is consistently ranked as one of the most popular politicians in the country.

Believing that Podemos has alienated many on the left, this year she formed a broad citizens’ movement called Sumar, which has since brought 15 small left parties, including Podemos, under its umbrella.

She showed she has a hard side by refusing to let colleague and friend, Equality Minister Irene Montero, whose reputation was badly marred by a sexual consent law that inadvertently allowed more than 1,000 convicted sex offenders to have their sentences reduced, and more than 100 paroled.

Díaz’s goal is to finish in third place on Sunday so that Sumar can help the socialists form a new left-wing coalition. According to polls, Sumar is slightly behind the far-right Vox.

Sumar is proposing more taxation for big business and the wealthy, a state-funded payment of 20,000 euros (about $22,000) for anyone turning 18 to help with studies and measures to help those in need make it to the end of the month.


Joseph Wilson and David Brunat contributed from Barcelona, ​​Spain.

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