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A protest against the trial of Catalan politicians last month in Madrid. Photo: Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Spanish politics have been upended in recent years by the breakdown of 2-party dominance, a fiery national debate over Catalan independence and the rise of a new far-right movement, Vox.

Why it matters: All 3 factors will be central to Sunday's general election. Political paralysis is perhaps the most likely outcome.

  • Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists lead in the polls, but would likely need the support of separatist parties to form a government. One problem: A dispute with pro-independence parties forced him to call the election in the first place.
  • The 3 right-of-center parties contesting the election have been portraying Sanchez as sympathetic to Calatan separatism at a time when leaders of the independence movement are on trial in Madrid for staging a 2017 referendum.
  • The election could yield a right-wing coalition that includes Vox, Spain's most successful far-right party since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, but the polls make that look unlikely.

What to watch: If no sustainable solution emerges, we could see yet another election before long.

The big picture: "The pattern is becoming familiar in Europe, where fed-up voters have abandoned the traditional parties of right and left (ask France's Republicans, or Italy's Democrats) and opted for a plethora of new groups, some on either extreme of the spectrum, others harder to pin down," the Economist notes.

  • "Political fragmentation has caused protracted delays to the formation of governments in Germany, Italy, Sweden and Estonia in the past year or so."

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
58 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The global future is looking dark and stormy

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.

10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rep. Gaetz declares he's "not going anywhere" amid sex trafficking probe

Rep. Matt Gaetz. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.

What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.