What next for Spain? Socialists mull governing alone

Spaniards head to polls for third time in four years amid far-right concerns

Spain votes in election marked by far-right resurgence

Sunday's vote was a humiliation for the People's party (PP), the traditional conservative party of government in Spain, as the anti-feminist, anti-immigration Vox party won 24 seats in parliament, the most significant victory by a far-right party since the end of Franco's dictatorship.

"The ERC (main separatist party) will not want another election right now, so they will let (Sanchez) govern by abstaining", said ISES's Diaz-Gimenez.

Pedro Sánchez, Spain's prime minister and socialist leader, has emerged from the country's elections as a victor but he will still struggle to govern.

Therefore, PSOE and UP combined would sum up 165 seats, falling short by 11 seats of an outright 176-seat majority in Congress.

If the results stand, that would mean Sánchez would also need to rely on smaller parties and separatists to stay in office.

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At least five parties from across the political spectrum have a chance of being in government and they could struggle to agree on a deal between them, meaning a repeat election is one of several possible outcomes. It's unclear what such a coalition might look like; even if it partnered with the far-left United We Can party, which won 42 seats, that left-wing alliance wouldn't have enough seats to control the government. Together, these three parties would only control 149 seats. "So in the case of Spain, without a doubt, the reason why they emerged and when they emerged, it's very much related to the Catalan issue and to some sort of Spanish nationalist response".

Spain's third parliamentary election in less than four years did little to dispel uncertainty over the political future of the eurozone's fourth largest economy. It won only 66 seats - 17% of the vote - less than half the number of seats it secured during the last election in 2016.

The Socialists and Podemos would need to link up with smaller regional parties, including Catalan separatists, to form a majority coalition.

Prime Minister Sánchez had called the snap election after Catalan separatist parties in his ruling coalition refused to support the budget.

The crisis in Catalonia was precisely what fuelled Vox's meteoric rise from the outer margins of politics to the national scene, after gaining almost 11% of votes in December regional polls in southern Andalusia. The right-wing Popular Party (PP) lost a no-confidence vote in May 2018, and has now recorded its worst election results in history.

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With the local and European elections due in May, a government might not be formed until June or July.

Retired construction worker Carlos Gonzalez said he had cast his ballot for the Socialists because they were a "moderate option".

So despite direct rule from Madrid, the trial of pro-independence leaders, and increasingly aggressive Spanish nationalism, people are still backing the pro-independence parties?

However Albert Riviera, head of Ciudadanos, said he would lead the opposition and "keep a close eye on the government".

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