(TELESUR) – Voting came to an end Sunday in Spain’s most divisive and open-ended election in decades, set to result in a fragmented parliament in which the far-right will get a sizeable presence for the first time since the country’s return to democracy.
The Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were seen leading Spain’s election as polls closed on Sunday, according to a survey by GAD3 published shortly after mainland voting ended.
The survey showed no single party close to winning a parliamentary majority.
According to the poll of GAD3 for TVE, the first that has been published after the closure of the polling stations, PSOE (116-121) and United Podemos (42-45) would add between 158 and 166 lawmakers. In this way, they would not reach an absolute majority (176) and would need the support of the pro-independence parties to govern. The right remains even further from the government: PP (69-73), Ciudadanos (48-49) and Vox (36-38) would reach a maximum of 160 seats and 153 at the minimum.
The participation at 18.00 in the general elections of this April 28, in which Spaniards vote more divided than ever, it was 60.76 percent, 9.5 points more than in the last elections, held in 2016.
Far-right group Vox was seen winning lower house seats, making it the first party with such politics to sit in Spain’s parliament since 1982.
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.
After a tense campaign dominated by issues such as national identity and gender equality, the likelihood that any coalition deal will take weeks or months to be brokered will feed into a broader mood of political uncertainty across Europe.
Voting started at 9:00 am local times and ends at 8:00 pm in mainland Spain for what will be the country’s third national election in four years, each of which has brought a further dislocation of the political landscape.
“After many years of instability and uncertainty, it’s important that today we send a clear, defined message about the Spain we want. And from there a broad parliamentary majority must be built that can support a stable government,” Sanchez told reporters after voting in a polling station near Madrid.
It is uncertain if Sanchez will manage to stay in office and how many allies he would need to gather together in order to do so.
If, in addition to leftist anti-austerity party Podemos and other small parties, Sanchez also needs the support of Catalan lawmakers, talks will be long and their outcome unclear.
With the trauma of military dictatorship under Francisco Franco, who died in 1975, still fresh in the memory for its older generation, Spain had long been seen as resistant to the wave of nationalist, populist parties spreading across much of Europe.
Some voters still stood by this. “I’m more of a Ciudadanos or PP voter but I’m so scared of Vox that I voted for the left-wing bloc, for the Socialists,” Julio Cesar Galdon, a 27-year-old political science graduate said after voting in central Madrid.