Spain‘s far-Right party DOUBLES its seats as ruling Socialists left further from forming majority

Spain‘s far-Right Vox party DOUBLES its seats as ruling Socialists are left further from forming a majority after country‘s latest General Election brings further deadlock

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Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez‘s Socialists won Spain‘s national election on Sunday but large gains by the upstart far-right Vox party appear certain to widen the political deadlock in the European Union‘s fifth-largest economy.

After a fourth national ballot in as many years and the second in less than seven months, the left-wing Socialists held on as the leading power in the National Parliament.

With 99 per cent of the votes counted, the Socialists won 120 seats, down three seats from the last election in April and still far from the absolute majority of 176 needed to form a government alone.

The big political shift came as right-wing voters flocked to Vox, which only had broken into Parliament in the spring for the first time.

The far-right party led by 43-year-old Santiago Abascal, who speaks of ‘reconquering‘ Spain in terms that echo the medieval wars between Christian and Moorish forces, rocketed from 24 to 52 seats. 

That will make Vox the third leading party in the Congress of Deputies and give it much more leverage in forming a government and crafting legislation. 

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez‘s (pictured in Madrid) Socialists won Spain‘s national election on Sunday but large gains by the upstart far-right Vox party appear certain to widen the political deadlock in the European Union‘s fifth-largest economy

After a fourth national ballot in as many years and the second in less than seven months, the left-wing Socialists held on as the leading power in the National Parliament. Pictured: Scenes in Madrid 

With 99 per cent of the votes counted, the Socialists (pictured, supporters in Madrid) won 120 seats, down three seats from the last election in April and still far from the absolute majority of 176 needed to form a government alone

The big political shift came as right-wing voters flocked to Vox, which only had broken into Parliament in the spring for the first time. Pictured: Pedro Sanchez (centre) speaks to supporters about the general election result outside party HQ in Madrid

The far-right party led by 43-year-old Santiago Abascal (pictured), who speaks of ‘reconquering‘ Spain in terms that echo the medieval wars between Christian and Moorish forces, rocketed from 24 to 52 seats

The party has vowed to be much tougher on both Catalan separatists and migrants.

Abascal called his party‘s success ‘the greatest political feat seen in Spain.‘

‘Just 11 months ago, we weren‘t even in any regional legislature in Spain. Today we are the third-largest party in Spain and the party that has grown the most in votes and seats,‘ said Abascal, who promised to battle the ‘progressive dictatorship.‘

Right-wing populist and anti-migrant leaders across Europe celebrated Vox‘s strong showing.

Marine Le Pen, who heads France‘s National Rally party, congratulated Abascal, saying it was impressive how his work ‘is already bearing fruit after only a few years.‘

In Italy, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party tweeted a picture of himself next to Abascal with the text ‘Congratulations to Vox!‘ above Spanish and Italian flags. 

And in the Netherlands, anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders also posted a picture of himself and Abascal and wrote ‘FELICIDADES‘ – Spanish for congratulations – with three thumbs-up emojis.

Sunday‘s results means there will be no end to the stalemate between forces on the right and the left in Spain, suggesting the country could go many more weeks or even months without a new government.

Spain‘s socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (left) called the fourth general election in as many years after his party failed to get enough seats in parliament to gain a working majority. He is up against Santiago Abascal, leader of far-right Vox Party 

A survey by Spain‘s public broadcaster released as the polls closed says the ruling Socialists are en route to win the country‘s second election this year but will be even further from putting together a parliamentary majority. Pictured: General Secretary of Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias (centre) and spokeswoman of Unidas Podemos Irene Montero (left) arrives to electoral night in Madrid

The RTVE survey, which polled more than 13,000 voters between October 25 and Sunday‘s ballot, signalled that Spain may run into another political stalemate. In April, the Socialists won 123 seats in the parliament‘s lower house, 53 seats short of a majority. Pictured: Officials count ballots at a polling station in Ronda

Polls in the Canary Islands remain open for another hour. Local authorities of small town in northeastern Spain say that police have arrested a man who was carrying a pistol in a polling station in Sunday‘s national election. Pictured: The number two of ERC to the Parliament by Barcelona, Gabriel Rufian (first from left), and Pere Aragones

Amposta Mayor Adam Tomas said the 70-year-old man was carrying the weapon in a bag and was arrested when he refused to show it police officers inside the polling station in the town in the region of Catalonia. Pictured: The head of the list of PSOE to the Parliament by Barcelona, Meritxell Batet voting

As of 6pm, 56.86 per cent of the country‘s 37 million eligible voters had cast their ballots, down from 60.74 per cent at the same time in the April 28 election

The lower turnout had been expected, since recent polls suggested up to 35 per cent of voters could skip the country‘s fourth ballot since 2015 because they felt jaded by the political stalemate. Pictured: Noelia Vera of Unidas Podemos on electoral night

Lower temperatures across Spain on Sunday and heavy rain in some northern provinces could have also contributed to people staying at home. Pictured: Government Action secretary of Podemos, Pablo Echenique

Analysts say lower turnout has traditionally hurt the country‘s left-wing parties. Pictured: The head of the Vox delegation at the European Parliament, Jorge Buxade, is seen giving a press conference during the in Madrid

Officials are pictured counting ballot papers at a polling station in Ronda after Spain held general elections on Sunday

The mainstream conservative Popular Party rebounded from their previous debacle in the April vote to 87 seats from 66, a historic low. 

The far-left United We Can, which had a chance to help the Socialists form a left-wing government over the summer but rejected the offer, lost some ground to get 35 seats.

The undisputed loser of the night was the center-right Citizens party, which collapsed to 10 seats from 57 in April after its leader Albert Rivera refused to help the Socialists form a government and tried to copy some of Vox‘s hard-line positions.

Sanchez‘s chances of staying in power will still hinge on finally winning over the United We Can party and several regional parties, a complicated maneuver that he has failed to pull off over the past few months.

‘These elections have only served for the right to grow stronger and for Spain to have one of the strongest far-right parties in Europe,‘ said United We Can leader Pablo Iglesias. ‘The only way to stop the far-right in Spain is to have a stable government. We again extend our hand to Pedro Sanchez.‘

Vox has already joined forces with the Popular Party and Citizens to take over many city and regional governments in the past year. Those three groups would readily band together to oust Sanchez, who is seen by the right-wing opposition as too soft on the Catalan secessionist movement.    

Polls predict the party could jump from 5th place to become Spain‘s third-ranking party, after the ruling Socialists and the centre-right Popular Party, the group from which Vox‘s founders stem. Pictured: he secretary of the Organization Area of PSC, Salvador Illa Roca

Surrounded by supporters, Abascal, 43, said he did not have many expectations Sunday but hoped ‘the election serves to reinforce Spanish unity.‘ Pictured: Votes being counted in Barcelona

Spain‘s Interior Ministry says turnout for Sunday‘s national election so far is 3.5 percentage points lower than the last ballot earlier this year. Pictured: Spanish conservative People‘s Party (PP) general secretary Teodoro Garcia Egea

Spain‘s socialist Prime Minister‘s conservative rival Pablo Casado, of the People‘s Party, casts his vote in the capital. Polls suggest his party may gain several additional seats

And far-right leader of Vox Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in the country‘s capital. The party, which favours ‘drastic solutions‘ to the Catalonian independence question has seen a surge in the polls

In Barcelona, Spain‘s Catalan leader Quim Torra casts his vote as daughter Helena Torra, wearing yellow, works at the polling station. This election has been marred by heightened tensions over Catalonian independence and a surge in support for Vox

Temperatures have also run high on the election day. A Ciudadanos observer and a pro-independence JxCat party observer argue after a Ciudadanos spokesman Ines Arrimadas cast her vote at a polling station in Barcelona

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A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, today. The polls close at 8pm tonight, 9pm GMT, with results expected to be announced within the next few hours afterwards

Spanish citizens cast their votes in Madrid, Spain, today. The last election had a record turnout of 76 per cent, but the turnout for this election is expected to be lower as voters suffer from fatigue

Voters in Barcelona, Catalonia, arrive to cast their votes in Spain‘s general election. One is holding a dog 

Julia Giobelina, a 34-year-old web designer from Madrid, was angry at having to vote for the second time this year but said she cast her ballot in hopes of stopping the rise of Vox.

‘They are the new fascism,‘ Giobelina said. ‘We citizens need to stand against privatization of health care and other public services.‘

Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s after a near four-decade right-wing dictatorship under the late Gen. Francisco Franco. The country used to take pride in claiming that no far-right group had seats in the national Parliament, unlike the rest of Europe.

That changed in the spring, but the Socialists‘ April victory was still seen by many as a respite for Europe, where right-wing parties had gained much ground.

Vox relied on its anti-migrant message and attacks on laws that protect women from domestic abuse as well as what it considers leftist ideology disguised as political correctness. Still, it does not advocate a break from the EU in the very pro-EU Spain.

But it has flourished after recent riots in Catalonia by separatists, capitalizing on Spanish nationalist sentiment stirred up by the country‘s worst political conflict in decades. 

Many right-wingers were also not pleased by the Socialist government‘s exhumation of Franco‘s remains last month from his gargantuan mausoleum so he could no longer be exalted in a public place. 

Spaniards arrive to cast their votes in the general election – it is expected to return another hung parliament for the country

Spanish voters queue outside a polling station in Barcelona before casting their votes. No party is expected to win the crucial 176 seats required to gain a working majority in the parliament

A woman casts her vote in Madrid, Spain, during the country‘s general election. In a move that could garner further support the PSOE government has exhumed the body of the country‘s former dictator Francisco Franco

A woman in a wheelchair casts her vote in Barcelona, Spain. Tensions have been heightened due to calls for Catalan independence and protests in the streets leading up to the election

Two election workers watch as votes are cast in the country‘s capital Madrid. Polls close at 8pm, or 9pm tonight, with results expected a few hours after they close

Dozens of people cheered and shouted ‘President! President!‘ on Sunday as Abascal voted in Madrid.

‘Only by getting rid of Sanchez we can preserve Spain as it is, not by reaching agreements with the (Catalan) separatists,‘ said Alfonso Pedro Monestilla, a 59-year-old civil servant who voted for Vox.

The debate over Catalonia, however, promises to fester.

The three Catalan separatist parties won a combined 23 seats on Sunday. Many Catalans have been angered by the decision last month by Spain‘s Supreme Court, which sentenced to prison nine Catalan politicians and activists who led a 2017 drive for the region‘s independence. 

The ruling has triggered massive daily protests in Catalonia that left more than 500 people injured, roughly half of them police officers, and dozens arrested.

More protests are expected beginning Monday.

Some of Catalonia‘s 5.5 million voters said they wanted their vote to deliver a message that politicians had to resolve the situation.

‘We are a bit tired, but I hope that the Spanish government understands that there is no other remedy than taking us into account,‘ said Cari Bailador, a retired teacher in Barcelona. 

Citizens arrive early in the morning to cast their vote in Madrid, Spain. PSOE is not expected to secure enough seats to form a majority in parliament

Barcelona‘s mayoress Ada Colau shakes hands with election workers as she arrives to cast her vote in Barcelona, Spain

The key leaders in the fourth Spanish general election in as many years

PEDRO SANCHEZ‘S SOCIALIST WORKERS‘ PARTY (PSOE)

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez with wife Maria Begona Gomez Fernandes goes to vote in Madrid, Spain

Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez, 47, a trained economist, called the snap election after failing to secure support from other parties after winning the most votes, but no working majority, in an election in April.

Most opinion polls point to the PSOE re-emerging as the largest party but again landing far short of a majority, and probably with fewer seats than in the previous ballot, requiring the support of other parties to form a government.

Recent events, particularly tensions over separatism in Catalonia, have boosted right-wing parties and could reshape the distribution of seats.

On Oct. 24, Sanchez‘s caretaker government removed the remains of late dictator General Francisco Franco from a state mausoleum in a historic, symbolically powerful step that could help him mobilize left-wing voters.

PSOE is Spain‘s oldest active party and one of two that have dominated the political landscape since Franco‘s rule ended with his death in 1975. It has been in government longest since then.

PABLO CASADO‘S PEOPLE‘S PARTY (PP)

Pablo Casado makes a statement before casting his vote in Spain‘s general election today

A conservative, Christian democratic party, and the Socialists‘ main rival for decades.

Pablo Casado, a 38-year-old lawyer and economist, became party leader a month after the government of Sanchez‘s predecessor Mariano Rajoy was ousted by Sanchez last year.

He obtained PP‘s worst ever election result in April with just 66 seats in the 350-seat house, but polls see PP faring much better next week, possibly putting Casado in the position of kingmaker.

Casado has promised to cut taxes and has called for Catalonia to be ‘reconquered‘ following the northeastern region‘s failed independence bid in 2017.

A critic of Sanchez‘s handling of the Catalan issue, Casado is known as a defender of family values, the monarchy and the Catholic Church, and an opponent of abortion and euthanasia.

SANTIAGO ABASCAL‘S VOX

Vox party leader Santiago Abascal pictured casting his vote in Madrid, Spain

An anti-immigration, nationalist party founded in 2013 by former PP members.

In April, Vox became the first far-right party to enter Spain‘s parliament since the 1980s, with 24 seats, and polls show it could now become the third-biggest force there, with possibly as many as 44 seats.

Vox opposes gender equality laws and is strongly against autonomy for Spain‘s regions.

Its leader Santiago Abascal, 43, is a tough-talking career politician from the Basque country, who harshly criticised the exhumation of Franco and who wants Catalan separatism quashed.

Echoing U.S. President Donald Trump‘s anti-immigration rhetoric, he has called for a secure wall to be built around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and for neighbouring Morocco to pay for it.

‘I am a supporter of discrimination,‘ he told 7TV Andalucia in 2017.

ALBERT RIVERA‘S CIUDADANOS (CITIZENS)

Pro-European Ciudadanos party leader Albert Rivera delivers a speech in July. He has also cast his vote today

A centre-right, pro-European party originally from Catalonia and part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe that first won Spanish parliament seats in 2015.

Its leader, Albert Rivera, 39, worked in a bank before founding Ciudadanos in 2006.

Rivera, who backed Sanchez in his failed 2016 bid for premiership, refused him support after April election, leaving him no option but to seek support from left-wing Unidas Podemos.

Polls show Ciudadanos would lose seats after several senior figures quit over regional deals it has struck with the far-right. Ciudadanos is a stalwart defender of Spain‘s unity and strongly opposes any concessions to separatists.

PABLO IGLESIAS‘ UNIDAS PODEMOS (TOGETHER WE CAN)

Unidas Podemos general secretary Pablo Iglesias heads to cast his vote in La Navata, Spain, today

An alliance of left-wing Podemos, United Left, and other parties, created in the run-up to the 2016 election and rooted in the anti-austerity protest movement. The name was tweaked in 2019 to make it female to reflect its pro-feminism stance.

Its leader, political scientist and lecturer Pablo Iglesias, 41, founded Podemos in 2014.

Podemos had tried in vain to negotiate a governing coalition deal with PSOE up to the very last minute in September, but Sanchez ultimately refused to give them cabinet posts, saying that Iglesias‘ excessive demands had torpedoed such a solution.

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