Spanish elections: Socialists win amid far right surge

The governing Socialist Party in Spain has won the most seats in the general election but fallen short of a majority as the far-right Vox party made huge gains.

The opposition conservative Popular Party came in second place, while Vox came third, increasing its vote share by more than double.

Right-wing parties have the most votes combined, though no majority.

Spain has not had a stable government since 2015.

This was the country‘s fourth election in as many years and was called following an inconclusive poll in April.

But the result means the left and right blocs are still far from having an absolute majority in the 350-seat parliament.

Voter turnout at 18:00 local time (17:00 GMT) was 56.8%, almost four points lower than the April ballot.

Spanish politics has become increasingly fragmented in recent years with the emergence of new parties.

What are the results?

The final results show the Socialists (PSOE) winning 120 of the parliament‘s 350 seats, while Vox has 52, around double the number the party had in the outgoing assembly.

The Popular Party (PP) is in second place with 88, up from 66 in the previous poll.

It was a disastrous night for the centre-right Citizens party, winning just just 10 seats. 

Not a good night for Socialists

Guy Hedgecoe, Madrid

Although Pedro Sánchez‘s Socialists have emerged as winners having suffered only slight losses in this election, the overall result is not a positive one for the acting prime minister.

With Podemos having lost some ground and Más País securing only a handful of seats, there is no clear left-wing majority. The Socialists‘ arch-rivals on the right, the PP, have recovered many of the seats they lost in April‘s ballot.

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If the country‘s longstanding political stalemate is to be broken, Mr Sánchez might have to seek the support of the PP, or else a third election in the space of one year could beckon.

Meanwhile, the huge surge by the nationalist Vox party makes it the country‘s third political force and it will now find it easier to set the agenda on the right. That is likely to hinder any attempts by Mr Sánchez to seek a conciliatory solution to the Catalan crisis.

This would mean that both the PSOE and the PP will struggle to form a coalition government without involving smaller parties – as 176 seats are required for a majority.

The April election ended in deadlock and the two parties failed to form a coalition together by the September deadline which forced Sunday‘s election.

To form a coalition now, they would need to form alliances with smaller, nationalist parties, analysts suggest.

Meanwhile, the PP and Vox could seek to make the most of their gains.

One PP politician said Prime Minister Sánchez should “start to think about going”, given the early results.

What are they saying about the far right?

The huge surge in seats for Vox will be one of the biggest talking points of the night.

Spain had appeared immune to a wave of far-right populism spreading across the continent in the last decade, with many remembering the military dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

But now Vox has established itself as a major force in Spanish politics.

France‘s far-right party leader Marine Le Pen took to Twitter to congratulate Vox‘s “staggering progress”.Italian populist Matteo Salvini also spoke of his pleasure at seeing Vox‘s success.

“Not at all racism and fascism, in Italy as in Spain we just want to live peacefully in our own home,” he tweeted. 

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