Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez led his Spanish Socialist Workers Party to an strong victory in Spain's parliamentary elections Sunday, leaving a divided opposition far behind.
With almost all the votes counted, the Ministry of Interior announced that the Socialists had kept their majority in the Congress of Deputies, winning 184 of the 350 seats in the chamber, eight more than needed for a majority.
In a victory speech, Gonzalez said that Spain, by holding the election in peace and normality, "has taken another step forward in democracy."
The election was the fourth since the end of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who died in 1975, and it gave Gonzalez a second four-year term as government leader.
Gonzalez, 44, described his electoral triumph as an endorsement of "continuity and stability in Spain." He promised to cooperate with all parties and regions of the country and outlined the main points of his program in the next four years as consolidation of Spain's place in Europe, creation of employment, modernization of industry and the elimination of inequalities.
Smaller Victory Margin
The Socialists' margin of victory was not as large as it was four years ago, when Gonzalez was swept into office with 202 of the 350 seats in a triumph many Spaniards looked on as their final rejection of the fascist Franco dictatorship. But even reduced, Gonzalez's new majority is ample enough to insure that he can govern with ease.
The leader of the opposition in the Congress of Deputies will continue to be Manuel Fraga, the 63-year-old former Francoist minister who heads the right-wing Popular Coalition. Fraga will control 105 seats, one less than last time. Many analysts had expected Fraga to do far worse and face rebellion in his own ranks.
Gonzalez and the Socialists lost some ground to centrist and regional parties. In the view of many analysts, a protest vote appeared to be at work. A number of Spaniards who support the Socialists on many issues have recently complained of Socialist arrogance and evidently voted for other parties in hopes of reducing the Socialist majority as a kind of lesson in humility.
According to the Interior Ministry, the main parties, under the complicated proportional representation system, had the following percentages of the total vote and number of seats in the Congress of Deputies:
--The Spanish Socialist Workers Party, 44% of the vote and 184 seats.
--The Popular Coalition, 26% of the vote and 105 seats.
--The Social and Democratic Center of former Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, 9% of the vote and 19 seats.
--Convergence and Union, a Catalan nationalist party, 5% of the vote and 18 seats.
--United Left, a coalition of mostly Communist parties, 5% of the vote and 7 seats.
--The Basque Nationalist Party, 2% of the vote and 6 seats.
--Herri Batasuna, a Basque party that is seen as an apologist for the separatist ETA terrorist organization, 1% of the vote and 5 seats.
The remaining six seats, according to the ministry of interior, would be divided among various regional and leftist parties.
Santiago Carrillo, the 71-year-old Communist leader who fought in the Spanish Civil War and then cooperated in the transition from dictatorship to democracy, lost his seat in the Congress. Carrillo, who had broken with the regular Communist Party, ran in Madrid as an independent Communist.
The heavy Socialist vote was spread throughout the country, but there were still pockets of discontent. Although the Socialists won the largest number of seats from the Basque region, they were outpolled by the various Basque nationalist parties.
A New Opposition
Former Prime Minister Suarez, 53, emerged as the only national political figure who might be able to build a new right-center opposition to replace the right-wing opposition of Fraga. Many analysts believe that only a right-center opposition has a chance in the next elections in 1990 of ousting the Socialists from office.
But while Suarez did better than many had expected when the campaign began, his meager total of 19 seats and his percentage of just 9% of the vote did not seem much to build on.