Spain: Two Romani men and two Romani women elected to national legislature, an historic success
Four Romani candidates succeeded in last Sunday's early elections to Congress in Spain and will now be seated in its 350-member legislature. They are Ismael Cortés for Unidas Podemos, Beatriz Carrillo for the victorious Spanish Socialist Labour Party (PSOE), Sara Giménez for Ciudadanos, and Juan José Cortés for the People's Party of Spain (PP).
This is the biggest representation by Romani community members in the legislature in the history of Spain; during the previous session there was just one Romani woman in Congress, Silvia Heredia. "We are happy, this is an historic moment," said Isidro Rodriguez, the director of the Fundación Secretariado Gitano (FSG) non-governmental organization, emphasizing that the successful legislators come from four different parties.
"The Romani community has changed a great deal even if Spanish society does not perceive it," he said. Rodriguez believes it is positive that Romani men and women were listed in electable spots on the "majority" party tickets.
Even though they have been elected for different parties, he believes they will all combat discrimination against Romani people and inequality. The overall victor of the elections are the Socialists, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
The PSOE won 28.7 % of the vote and 123 seats in the 350-member Congress. Second place, with 66 seats, goes to the conservative PP, whose results are being assessed by the Spanish media as an historic defeat for that party.
Party leader Pablo Casado tweeted that his group will be the main opposition force in the new legislature. The free-market Ciudadanos party will also be in opposition.
That third-place finisher will have 57 seats and the PM could form a majority Government with them. However, Ciudadanos chair Albert Rivera, who based their campaign on a promise to keep the left from taking power, rejected any collaboration with the PSOE and confirmed on 30 April that the party will go into opposition.
Fourth place went to the left-wing protest formation Unidas Podemos, which now holds 42 seats. If the PM wants to establish a coalition with this ideologically closest partner, he would need the support of smaller regional parties.
Unidas Podemos has already offered to begin coalition talks. The populist-xenophobic Vox party also entered the legislature for the first time, winning 24 seats.
This is the first time since 1982 that an extreme-right party has succeeded in elections in Spain. The Catalan separatist formation will have more than 20 seats in the new legislature and the two Basque nationalist parties will each have 10.
More than three-quarters of eligible voters cast ballots, an above-average participation rate overall. In comparison with the previous elections in 2016, turnout grew by almost 10 percentage points.
This is the third time in less than four years that Spaniards have gone to the national polls. Roughly 750 000 Romani people live in the country of 47 million.
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