Spanish election yields another hung parliament - what happens next?

Polling fails to break the country's impasse and sets up months of negotiations

(Image credit: (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images))

Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez says he will form “a stable government and do politics for the benefit of the majority of Spaniards” after Sunday’s election delivered another hung parliament.

The governing Socialists (PSOE) won the most seats at the polls, but fell short of a majority. Meanwhile, the far-right Vox party “vaulted into third place”, The Guardian says, and the centre-right Citizens party suffered “a humiliating collapse”.

PSOE, led by Sanchez, won 120 seats, three fewer than in April’s inconclusive election. The conservative People’s party (PP) won 87 seats, while Vox more than doubled its seat count from 24 to 52. Another significant statistic was the turnout, which points to increased apathy: participation fell from 75.5% in April to 69.9%.

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What happens next?

The result means that the election has failed to bring an end to the country’s political impasse and Spain’s political parties are set for yet more negotiations and horse-trading to try to assemble a government.

With potentially months of bargaining ahead, Sanchez said: “I’d like to make a call for the rest of the political parties to act generously and responsibly to unblock the political situation in Spain. The PSOE will also act generously and responsibly to unblock it.”

The leader of PP, Pablo Casado, said: “We’ll see what Pedro Sanchez suggests and then we’ll fulfil our responsibility because Spain can’t carry on being deadlocked.”

The anti-austerity Unidas Podemos, which came fourth with 35 seats, has offered to help Sanchez back into office. “Once again we extend a hand to the Socialist party and Pedro Sanchez,” said party leader Pablo Iglesias, adding that he was ready to start talks with the party as soon as Monday.

The BBC points out that though Unidas Podemos is the Socialist party's natural political ally, a coalition between the two would still fall short of the 176 seats needed for a majority.

Spain is currently in turmoil, with unemployment figures rising by almost 100,000 last month and the European commission revising the country’s growth forecast down from 2.3% to 1.9% for this year, and from 1.9% to 1.5% for 2020.

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