Socialists lead in Spanish election as far-right make gains

Spain’s craziest election ever

No single party will get a majority; the Socialist party of outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is leading the race, and there will be lawmakers from the far-right Vox party.

Another unpredictable path that Sánchez could consider is to seek the support of secessionists in Catalonia. This is the first far right party to have a sizeable parliamentary representation since the death of Franco, but the number of seats (at 24) fell short of expectations.

Turnout in Sunday's vote was around 75 per cent, up more than eight points since the previous election in 2016, the provisional results showed. Following the election, Ciudadanos has already said that it does not want to negotiate with the Socialists.

Vox "is going backwards, to the past".

"Pedro Sanchez is in a good position", said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at Madrid's Carlos III University.

Mr Sanchez ousted former prime minister Mariano Rajoy after a no-confidence motion in June a year ago, and called a snap election after a budget stalemate.

The pro-independence parties, including ERC, will be under a lot of pressure to avoid the government collapsing, as it would trigger another election which could bring a combination of the three right-wing parties to power.

While Sanchez has ruled out any negotiations on Catalan independence, any deal with the separatists would rake over the coals of the most divisive topic of an often tense election campaign that was dominated by issues of national identity.

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Senior Ciudadanos leader Ines Arrimadas told Spanish radio on Monday her party could not ally with Sanchez, calling him a "public danger, someone capable of anything" to stay in power.

The center-right People's Party (PP) received 16.7 percent of the vote and 66 seats, with the center-right Ciudadanos receiving 15.8 percent of the vote and 57 seats.

Although some political uncertainty remains, DBRS considers that various features embedded in Spanish politics will constrain more radical outcomes.

Mr. Sanchez took office last June after the then-governing PP lost a confidence vote. Notable in this election is the emergence of the nationalist party Vox.

Polling stations will close at 8:00 p.m. (1800 GMT), with results announced later Sunday. Spain's political future is no clearer after a third election since 2015, with experts saying Monday that it won't be anytime soon before the muddle is resolved.

If, as opinion polls predict, Sanchez wins without a majority, he will have to forge alliances with far-left Podemos - as he did over the past 10 months - but also possibly smaller groupings like Catalan separatist parties.

Right-wing parties for their part lambasted Sanchez, at the head of a minority government, for talking with separatists who still govern the region, accusing him of cosying up to those who tried to break up Spain.

He has not ruled out that option, though it appeared less likely after Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera repeated after the election that he would be in the opposition.

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