Spain's ruling Socialists have sealed victory in the country’s general election but failed to win a majority, amid unprecedented gains by the far-right.
Pedro Sanchez’s party received 29% of the vote and will need to negotiate an alliance with left-wing Podemos and regional parties, or the centre right, to form a government.
The populist Vox party won about 10% of the vote, and will be the first far-right party to enter parliament since military rule ended in the 1970s.
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The results signalled the end of “Spanish exceptionalism”, says The Guardian, referring to its supposed “immunity” to the far-right.
The party’s popularity is rising because “traditional politics is fragmenting”, says CNN, while Sky News adds that voters have become “disillusioned as the country struggled with a recession, austerity cuts, corruption scandals”.
It was a disastrous night for centre-right Popular Party. Once a leading force in Spanish politics, it suffered its worst election ever, managing just 66 seats, down from 137 in the previous parliament.
The centre-left Catalan ERC was the winner in Catalonia, with a projected 15 seats. Its leader, Oriol Junqueras, who is in prison facing trial for declaring independence in October 2017, expressed his gratitude for the million votes his party received.
Attention now turns to coalition negotiations. Sanchez has stated that his only conditions are that partners must respect the constitution and promote social justice.
Spain’s interior ministry said that turnout was more than 75% in the country’s third general election in four years, well above the average in the previous 12 elections since Spain returned to democratic rule.
Spain is the only western European country that has not yet been governed by a coalition government. However, in recent years it has had minority governments shored up by parliamentary alliances.
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