The survey showed no single party close to winning a parliamentary majority. Far-right group Vox was seen winning lower house seats, making it the first party of its political hue to sit in Spain’s parliament since 1982. An initial tally from Spain’s interior ministry as votes are being counted shows no clear majority so far. Neither the rightist or the leftist political bloc in Spain was holding a clear majority in Sunday’s national election, according to a tally of results from the interior ministry with 80 percent of votes counted.
By party, the Socialists of Spain’s outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez led with 123 seats in the 350-seat parliament while centre-right Ciudadanos would have 57 seats.
There was speculation before the election about a possible coalition between them, though both parties’ leaders have ruled it out. The preliminary data would give them a potential parliamentary majority.
The right-wing mainstream conservative PP party was pegged at 65 seats, far-left Unidas Podemos at 42 and far-right Vox at 24.
Spaniards cast their votes in numbers close to record highs in the country’s most highly-contested election for decades, and one likely to lead to months of negotiations to form a government in a bitterly divided parliament.
This is the third national election in four years, and both the first two eroded the decades-long dominance of the two biggest parties, the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party. Another repeat is a distinct possibility.
The difficulty of assembling a governing coalition in such a fractured political landscape means that it is possible that Spain could head into yet another repeat election.
60-year-old businessman Javier Deval after voting in central Madrid said: “I don’t think it’s a problem to have different options, that’s always constructive. As long as they are able to figure out how to work together after the elections – that’s the big question now.”
A splintered vote followed by protracted talks to form an administration is becoming a recurrent theme in European politics as voters reject traditional parties in favour of new groups often at the extremes of the political spectrum.
In Spain, issues like mass immigration or Euroscepticism that have dominated political discourse elsewhere have been eclipsed by the question of national unity and the threat posed by the independence movement in the northeast region of Catalonia.
Vox’s campaign was marked by passionate reference to Spain’s history, customs and survival as a nation. The survey showed the party gaining up to 38 seats in Spain’s 350-seat parliament.
Alfonso Gomez, an unemployed 57-year-old, said after casting his vote: “Catalonia has been the focal point of the campaign and it’s what has made me vote for Vox. It’s the party that most clearly fights against (Catalan) independence.”
In a sign of how Catalan parties will be key in negotiations to form a new government, the survey suggested that, in order remain in power, Sanchez would have to form an alliance with at least one separatist party from Catalonia.
First preliminary data will be published at around 1900 GMT with about 20-25 percent of the votes counted, officials said. Officials said they expected that 90 percent of the votes would be counted by 2030-2100 GMT.
In the past two elections, both the early evening opinion polls and the initial preliminary data failed to give an accurate picture of the eventual outcome.
More to follow…