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UPDATE 6-Spain's far right seen doubling seats but no clear election winner- early results

Reuters | Madrid | Updated: 11-11-2019 02:44 IST | Created: 11-11-2019 02:43 IST
UPDATE 6-Spain's far right seen doubling seats but no clear election winner- early results
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Spain's far-right Vox party was set to more than double its share of seats on Sunday as another hung parliament beckoned following the country's fourth national election in four years, according to a partial tally after voting ended. The Socialists of acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez were on course to finish first but with fewer seats than in the previous ballot in April, the tally and an opinion poll by GAD3 for public broadcaster RTVE showed.

That would leave them further away from a majority in an even more fragmented parliament. Suggesting no clear advantage for either the leftist or the rightist bloc, the figures pointed to a legislative stalemate that could yet again fail to produce a working government.

With official results trickling in throughout the evening, data with just over 80% of votes counted showed the Socialists first, the conservative People's Party (PP) second and Vox third. At this stage Vox could get around 53 seats, up from the 24 seats with which it debuted in parliament in April.

NATIONALIST SURGE

Spain had long appeared immune to a nationalist surge that has swept through other parts of Europe in recent elections, with many still remembering the military dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

But anger with political gridlock and with secessionist unrest in Catalonia appeared to have significantly boosted Vox's popularity. "I feel very excited that there is a resurgence of values ​​in Spain and this party seems to me the only one that defends them," Maria Dolores Cuevas, a 68-year pensioner, said at Vox headquarters.

Casting her ballot for the Socialists in Madrid earlier in the day, 64-year old retired history teacher Esperanza de Antonio called the party a danger to democracy. "I'm saying this because I've taught about fascism for 30 years," she told Reuters. Franco ruled Spain as an autocrat from 1939 to 1975, when he died.

ALLIANCES?

Following decades after Franco's death during which power oscillated between the Socialists and the PP, Spain has struggled to put stable governments together since new parties, latterly including Vox, emerged from the financial crisis.

Higher abstention rates on Sunday showed that voters are tired of being called repeatedly to the ballot box and that, if nothing else, that could help the parties reach a deal on forming a government. But if confirmed, the outcome will require party leaders to be creative, negotiate seriously and, for some, swallow their pride.

The most likely outcome appears to be a minority Socialist government. The bigger question would be who its allies could be and how long such a government could last in a very fragmented parliament. According to the partial results with some 80% of the votes counted, the Socialists were pegged at just over 28% and poised to win around 122 seats, just down from 123 they secured in the 350-seat house in April.

In the most optimistic scenario for the left, according to the GAD3 poll, it would get to a majority of 176 seats when adding various small regional parties and Catalan separatist lawmakers. But such an alliance would represent the maximum of the polling range for each of the parties involved and would be very difficult to achieve after the recent unrest in Catalonia.

Another option could be that market-friendly Ciudadanos, whose voting share is sharply down, could support the Socialists. Sanchez called the election betting that a new vote would strengthen his party's hand after failing to forge the alliances needed to form a government on the basis of the April result.


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