Spain's conservatives first in elections; leftist parties see gains

Spain's left-wing Podemos Party and the Socialists made gains Sunday in the second parliamentary elections in six months in the country, while the centre-right People's Party (PP) led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was still the most popular single party in the elections despite losing several seats.

The Podemos (We Can) Party, led by Pablo Iglesias, finished second to the PP, according to projections, which placed the socialist PSOE party in third after also suffering losses.

The new elections were necessary because the political parties were unable to form a coalition following an election in December.

Spain remains in a difficult political situation even after the new elections that further threatens stability in the European Union after last week's Brexit referendum in Britain.

According to a projection by state broadcaster TVE, the PP secured between 117 and 121 seats in the 350-seat parliament. This is down from the 123 seats the PP won in December.

The projection, which is based on exit polls, shows Podemos won between 91 and 95 seats, up from 71 seats it had last year, a result that if correct will make it the second-largest party in parliament and ahead of the Socialists (PSOE) for the first time.

The PSOE will have between 81 and 85 seats, down from 90 last year, arrording to the projection. The absolute majority is 176 seats.

It could not be ruled out that Podemos and the PSOE were likely together to have enough seats to form an absolute majority, but many Socialists have said they vehemently oppose a leftist alliance with Podemos, even if it would put them in power.

The centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens) party appeared to be headed for the biggest loss. It was projected to win between 26 and 30 seats, compared with 40 last year.

The Socialists and Ciudadanos tried to form a "reformist and progressive" minority government after the December elections but failed.

Brussels repeatedly has demanded Madrid correct its high budget deficit, recognizing that Spain needs a strong government to make the tough decisions. Rajoy has remained in office since the December election with only limited capabilities.

Some 36.5 million Spaniards were eligible to vote. The government said it appeared voter turnout was very low. It could be well below the 73 per cent that turned out in December.

Last update: Sun, 26/06/2016 - 22:57

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