Political impasse in Asturias is far from over

If the scenario in Andalusia appears murkier than it was before Sunday’s election, it is even less clear in Asturias, where the Popular Party (PP) may have to swallow a bitter pill and enter into a pact with a renegade member if it wants to unblock the political impasse in the northern region.

In effect, Javier Fernández and his Socialists won the elections by obtaining 16 seats in the 45-member parliament. But even with the support of the United Left (IU-IX) coalition grouping, which won five seats, and UPyD, which got one, the Socialists would still fall short by one to form a government — they need 23 seats for an absolute majority.

Incumbent regional premier Francisco Álvarez-Cascos’ conservative Asturias Citizens Forum (FAC) coalition obtained 13 seats, while the PP garnered 10.

Over the last 10 months, Álvarez-Cascos, a former PP secretary general who abandoned the party last year to form FAC, has been engaged in a fierce battle with his former political allies. After winning the regional race on May 22, Álvarez-Cascos was forced to hold new elections when he failed to drum up enough parliamentary support to pass a budget and other measures.

The situation is still critical in Asturias, with the two conservative parties at each others’ throats as they face the reality that a parliamentary coalition is the only outlet to pull the region out of this political nightmare. If a pact is hammered out, Álvarez-Cascos could remain chief of the “Principado,” since his FAC coalition won the most votes of the two conservative forces.

But the Socialists are not so keen on giving up. Fernández and his supporters are waiting for the vote count from Asturian residents who live in other countries and were eligible to cast ballots in Sunday’s elections. The Socialists believe that this count will give them enough votes to win up to two more seats.

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