Socialists lead in Spanish election as far-right make gains

Socialists lead in Spanish election as far-right make gains

Speaking to supporters in Madrid following Sunday's election - which also saw the far-right Vox Party enter Parliament - Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the PSOE's win sends "a message to the world that it's possible to win against regression and authoritarianism".

But he must join forces with either left-wing Podemos and other regional parties or the centre right if he decides to form a coalition government.

A woman picks up a ballot at a polling station in Ronda near Malaga, during general elections in Spain, on April 28, 2019.

The right-wing mainstream conservative People's Party was pegged at 65 seats, far-left Unidas Podemos (United We Can) at 42 and far-right Vox at 24. Outside, hundreds celebrated in the street, waving red party flags and chanting "Long live Spain" and "Long live Socialism".

That controversy is likely to continue as two Catalan separatist parties gained even more lawmakers in the national parliament than they did in 2016 - up to 22 from 17.

Founded by Santiago Abascal, a former member of the PP, with a strong stance against feminism and illegal immigration, Vox has stood out with ultra-nationalist rhetoric that advocates the "defence of the Spanish nation to the end" and a hard line against separatists in Catalonia.

Dolores Palomo, a 48-year-old domestic worker, said she has always voted for the Socialists, but cast her ballot for center-right Ciudadanos this time, at a polling station in Hospitalet de Llobregat, near Barcelona, because Sanchez "is a puppet of the separatists". Together, the Socialists and Ciudadanos would have an outright majority.

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However Albert Riviera, head of Ciudadanos, said he would lead the opposition and "keep a close eye on the government".

Spain returns to the polls today, for the third time in less than four years, and with a political outlook that is more fractured than ever. EURACTIV's partner efe-epa reports.

"Citizens can not strike any agreements with those that have entered into agreements with [Catalan President Quim] Torra, [Basque nationalist] EH Bildu [party] and [former Catalan leader Carles] Puigdemont", Arrimadas said at a press conference.

Spain's Interior Ministry says that turnout was over 75 per cent, well above the average in the previous 12 elections since Spain returned to democratic rule. With 99 percent of the votes counted, the Socialists won 29 percent of the vote, for about 123 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies.

The Popular Party and the Citizens party focused their campaigns on unseating Sanchez, hinting they could create a conservative coalition government - with the backing of Vox - like the one that recently ousted the Socialists from the southern Andalusia region.

The emergence of Vox at a national level comes after it burst onto the scene in December regional polls in southern Andalusia, gaining almost 11 per cent of votes.

Spain's socialist-led government can help re-start Europe by pushing its alternative to economic austerity and prioritising the fight against climate change, writes Udo Bullmann.

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