Spanish elections: Socialists 'lead amid right-wing surge'

Clay Curtis
November 11, 2019

Spain's ruling Socialists came in first in Sunday's general election but have fallen short of a majority, preliminary results showed.

"These elections have allowed the right to grow stronger and now we have an extreme right which is among the most powerful and strong in Europe", said Iglesias whose party also suffered a slide, dropping to 35 seats from 42 in April.

The conservative Popular Party follows in second place, while the far-right Vox party appears to have doubled its vote share, said the poll by public broadcaster RTVE.

Opinion polls ahead of Sunday's vote indicated that the results would not be enough to break Spain's political stalemate.

Right-wing parties have the most votes combined, though no majority. Around 37 million citizens are being asked to elect 350 members of Congress and 208 senators in an election that surveys show is likely to yield a fractured parliament. Polls in the Canary Islands remain open for another hour.

Party leader Santiago Abascal said Vox's success was "the greatest political feat seen in Spain".

The governing Socialist Workers' Party wants the standoff to be resolved through dialogue.

Sunday's repeated election was called after the Socialists and United We Can, now Spain's fourth-largest party in parliament, failed to reach an agreement following the last election in April.

Sánchez's chances of staying in power still hinges on ultimately winning over the United We Can party and several regional parties, a complicated maneuver that he has failed to pull off in recent months.

Polls suggest that turnout could be a factor, with voter fatigue looming.

TRT World's Francis Collings has more.

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A coalition of PSOE (120) and Unidas Podemos (26) is far from the required majority and they would need 17 more lawmakers to form a government. The Interior Ministry put turnout at 69.91% - down from the record 71.76% during the general election in April.

Voter turnout at 18:00 local time (17:00 GMT) was 56.8%, nearly four points lower than the last general elections in April.

The election also comes less than a month after Spain's Supreme Court handed out lengthy jail sentences to nine Catalan independence leaders, triggering protests and violence on the streets of Catalonia. "Drastic solutions are needed", he said during his final campaign rally last Friday night in Madrid.

He then repeated his pledge to end the Catalan crisis by suspending Catalonia's regional autonomy, banning separatist parties and arresting its regional president, Quim Torra, who has vowed to continue the secession drive.

The crowd responded by chanting "Torra to the dungeon".

Polling stations will close on Sunday evening and vote counting will start immediately.

The big political shift came as right-wing voters flocked to Vox, which only had broken into Parliament in the spring for the first time.

In recent days, Sanchez had repeatedly raised the alarm about Vox's "aggressive ultra-right wing" policies, warning the party would drag the country back to the dark days of Franco's dictatorship.

The campaign has been overshadowed by the Catalan separatist crisis that has played squarely into the hands of the far right which over the past year has made significant inroads into Spain's political arena.

More than 600 people were injured, around half of them police. However, this option is not being considered by any of the two parties.

And there is there is a good risk Sunday's vote will only prolong the agony in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

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