Substate parties win 38 seats in Spanish Congress election

Of these, 10 were elected on Sumar coalition lists, 27 on pro-independence or nationalist lists in Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia and the Canary Islands, and 1 was won by UPN

Bildu followers celebrate the growth of their party, 23 July.
Bildu followers celebrate the growth of their party, 23 July. Author: EH Bildu
The 23 July election to the Spanish Congress of Deputies has left a correlation of forces in which obtaining support from substate parties —pro-independence, federalist, autonomist...— will be critical for the formation of the upcoming Spanish government. Current Spanish President and PSOE candidate Pedro Sánchez needs to strike deals with most of those parties to re-edit the coalition government he has commanded in Spain since 2019. If he does not, a snap election might be in sight.

How have all these parties fared? In the upcoming Congress, there will be 38 seats belonging to non-statewide parties, out of 350. Of these 38 seats, 37 are from pro-independence, pro-sovereignty, federalist, or autonomist parties: 10 have been elected within the left-wing, state-level Sumar alliance, while another 27 hail from Catalan, Basque, Galician and Canarian pro-independence or nationalist parties. The remaining seat, adding 38, has been won by Navarre's UPN, the only substate party that does not demand more self-government for its territory.

Catalonia: the decline of all three pro-independence parties

The Catalan pro-independence parties have dropped from 23 seats and 52% of the vote in the 2019 election to 14 seats and 28% now. This is the sharpest drop Catalan nationalism has suffered from one Congress election to the next. It is also the lowest result for the pro-independence bloc since CDC —formerly a pro-autonomy party— embraced independence in the 2015 election.

This result —its breakdown: 7 seats for the centre-left ERC (down from 13 in 2019), 7 for catch-all Junts (down from 8) and 0 for the anti-capitalist CUP (losing both seats it had)— coincides with an orientation crisis of the pro-independence movement after the failed secession process, and takes place in a context of higher abstention in Catalonia (34.6%) than in Spain as a whole (29.6%). The three parties obtained 954,000 votes altogether, a far cry from the 1,652,000 they achieved 4 years ago.

However, the overall close election result means that the Catalan pro-independence parties are key to the new Spanish government formation. The re-election of a government headed by Pedro Sánchez and supported by a left-wing majority depends on the favourable vote of ERC and, at least, the abstention of Junts.

Outside the pro-independence camp, Catalunya en Comú (federalists) have won 6 of 7 seats secured by their alliance with Sumar —the seventh seat will belong to Lilith Verstrynge of Podemos.

Bildu's breakthrough to become largest Basque party

While Catalan independence parties are on the decline, Basque independence parties are on the rise. Left-wing Bildu has for the first time become the largest Basque party in the Spanish Congress (6 seats), surpassing the Basque Nationalist Party (5). In Euskadi, both parties hold the same number of MPs (5 each), but Bildu has won an extra seat in Navarre. Overall, this result (11 seats) marks an increase for Basque nationalism of one seat compared to the 2019 result (10).

Basque nationalist parties' 11 seats, like Catalonia's, are essential for Sánchez to re-edit his coalition government. PSOE needs Bildu and PNV to vote for him. The two Basque parties have repeatedly expressed their willingness to prevent a right-wing government in Spain now.

In Navarre, the Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN), a traditional ally of the Spanish right, has secured one seat. Unlike all other non-state parties represented in Congress, UPN is not demanding increased autonomy for its territory.

Galicia: BNG grows again, but only secures 1 seat

The Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), as in the past few elections, continues to improve its results. The left-wing pro-sovereignty party rises from 8% of Galicia votes in 2019 to 9.5% now. This means another 32,000 votes that, however, have not helped the party reach the second seat, a goal that the BNG had set for itself. Galician sovereigntist Néstor Rego will keep the seat they had until now. According to the BNG itself, Rego's seat will be added to a left-wing majority, if it is formed.

Valencian Country: Compromís gets 2 seats

The Valencianist coalition Compromís has returned 2 MPs in Congress: Àgueda Micó (Més-Compromís) and Alberto Ibáñez (Iniciativa del Poble Valencià). Compromís won the 2 seats as part of the Sumar alliance, which included several Spanish left-wing parties (Movimiento Sumar, Podemos, Izquierda Unida, Más País, and Equo) and a series of sovereigntist or autonomist parties from various peoples, which we will mention below. The 2 seats won this time are double the number won in 2019 (1) but half the historical maximum (4) reached in the 2015 election.

Balearic Islands: historic election of one MP from Més party

Similarly to the Valencian Country, the Sumar alliance included two island parties: Més per Mallorca and Més per Menorca. A candidate from Més per Mallorca, Vicenç Vidal, led the list. Having been elected, Vidal has become the first Mallorcan pro-sovereignty MP in the Spanish Congress' history. The Més-Sumar alliance obtained 16.6% of the votes in the Balearic Islands. This not only won them a seat, but also put them ahead of Spanish far-right Vox, which had just obtained an extraordinary result in the May 2023 Balearic Islands Parliament election.

Aragon: the Chunta regains its seat

Left-wing Chunta Aragonesista (CHA) led the Sumar alliance in the Zaragoza constituency and, by winning a seat, will send a representative to the Congress of Deputies for the first time since the 2011 election. The Chunta seat will be held by young lawyer Jorge Pueyo, who has become popular in Aragon for his work disseminating the Aragonese language.

Canary Islands: alliance break-up leaves Nueva Canarias out of the running

In the 2019 election, centre-right Coalición Canaria (CC) and centre-left Nueva Canarias (NC) ran in an alliance that secured 2 seats, one for each of them. This time they have run separately, with the result that CC has kept its seat (in Tenerife), but NC has lost it (in Las Palmas). The CC seat will be held by Cristina Válido, who on election night declined to say what stance her party would take on the upcoming negotiations to form a government in Spain. A few weeks ago, CC and Spanish right-wing PP reached an agreement to govern the Canary Islands in coalition.