Socialists set to reign in Spain, but not without support
Socialists set to reign in Spain, but not without support
Spain votes in election marked by far-right resurgence
29 April, 2019, 13:37
Speaking Sunday after voting, Sanchez said he wanted the ballot to yield a parliamentary majority that can undertake the key social and political reforms that Spain needs.
The most significant new development of these elections is the emergence of far-right party Vox, which burst onto the scene in December regional polls in southern Andalusia, and looks set to make its first-ever entrance into the national parliament.
A far-right party will enter parliament in Spain for the first time since the country's transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist Party candidate Pedro Sanchez gestures to supporters gathered at the party headquarters waiting for results of the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019.
Two hours before the polls closed, turnout was more than 9 per cent higher than in the previous election in 2016, Spain's Interior Ministry said.
The Socialists (PSOE) claimed victory as Pedro Sanchez's party took 123 seats in the 350-seat parliament. Surging far right and centrist groups seriously undercut what was until now the main opposition, the Popular Party.
In Spain, polls also forecast that Vox, with its ultra-nationalist rhetoric that advocates the "defense of the Spanish nation to the end", will come in fifth place.
But it failed to seduce disillusioned workers traditionally voting for the left, many of whom said they weren't so much voting for the Socialists, but voting against Vox.
People line up to cast their votes at a polling station in Barcelona.
'Vox is here to stay, ' party leader Santiago Abascal told a crowd of supporters.
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Opposed to multiculturalism, unrestricted migration, and what it calls "radical feminism", the party raked in 24 seats.
The unflagging demands of separatists for that wealthy region's independence brought in 2017 Spain's worst constitutional crisis in decades, and the price of their support may be too high for Sánchez.
There was speculation before the election about a possible coalition between the Socialists and Citizens, though both parties' leaders have ruled it out.
Spanish police officers hold an activist from the women's rights organization Femen, with the text, "It is not patriotism but fascism" on her chest, protesting at a campaign rally for the Spanish far-right party VOX in Madrid, on April 26, 2019.
Preliminary official results of the elections should be announced at around 10:30 p.m. local time.
However, the rise of Vox also splintered the right-wing vote, further fragmenting Spain's political landscape and playing into the hands of the Socialists which won an nearly 50% increase in seats.
The Socialists and Podemos are set to fall around 11 seats short of a parliamentary majority, but bridging the gap would require Sanchez to also rely on Basque nationalists and other small parties.
He would rather not have to do that, given right-wing parties' accusations that he cosied up with the "enemies of Spain" during his time in government.
To remain in office, Mr Sánchez will have to form a governing alliance with smaller parties, including the far-left United We Can.
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