BARCELONA   -  The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party - set to form government in Spain - will facilitate the Pakistani settlers in this European country, party leaders here said.

The left-leaning party is expected to govern following a resounding victory in national polls. Pedro Sanchez and his centre-left PSOE were the clear winners of Spain’s general elections over the weekend after garnering 123 seats.

The anti-austerity, left-wing Unidas Podemos party gained 42 seats and has signaled its openness to work with PSOE. However, their combined 165 seats still fall short of the 176 required for an absolute majority in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies in Spain.

The remaining seats needed for a majority could conceivably come from regional nationalist parties in the Basque Country and Catalonia. “We believe that we have more than enough support to be the rudder of this ship,” Carmen Calvo, the deputy prime minister in the previous government, said. Governor Barcelona Montserrat Garcia told The Nation that the PSOE supported workers and immigrants’ rights. “The socialist government will work for equal rights of the people and would definitely help the Pakistanis struggling in Spain,” she said. The governor said the new government was expected to ease the immigration rules in the future.

Garcia said the new government aimed to enhance ties with Pakistan. “We want close relationship with Pakistan,” she added. Pakistan-origin PSOE leader Abdul Razzaq Sadiq said the new government will be lenient towards the Pakistani immigrants. We are pro-people,” he remarked.

Sadiq said the Pakistani-origin Pakistanis had voted heavily for the PSOE. “This is the party that gives them hope. The PSOE also wants close ties with Pakistan,” he said. Pakistan Consul General in Barcelona Ali Imran Chaudhry said the Pakistanis were contributing towards Spain’s prosperity.

He said the consulate was working with the Pakistani community to resolve their issues. “Most of the Pakistanis here enjoy legal status,” he maintained. Pakistan-Valencia Association leade Jamshed Mehr said the PSOE would improve conditions for the Pakistanis living in Spain.

Pakistanis in Spain form one of the country’s smaller migrant communities. Their numbers began to grow rapidly in the early 2000s. Pakistanis began settling in Spain, mainly in the city center of Barcelona, as early as the 1970s, and most Pakistanis in Spain still reside there.

However, it took until November 2006 for the Pakistani government to approve plans to open a consulate. They primarily trace their origins to the province of Punjab. Migrants largely consist of men. According to Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística, only 13 per cent are women.

Common areas of employment among the Pakistanis in Barcelona include in agriculture, as skilled tradespersons such as mechanics, carpenters, or welders, and in construction. A small proportion are engaged in the liberal professions, mainly medicine, law, and engineering. About four-tenths also run their own businesses.

Grocery stores, butchers’ shops, clothing stores, mobile phone shops, and discount shops are some of the more common types of businesses. There are about 70, 000 Pakistanis in Spain, although the Spanish Institute of Statistics only accounts for those legally resident.