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PP win most seats and PSOE cling on to second place

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PP win most seats and PSOE cling on to second place
Celebrations outside PP headquarters in Madrid. Photo: AFP
19:10 CEST+02:00
Spain's ruling conservatives won a repeat general election on Sunday with 32.7 percent of the vote, ahead of the Socialists which came in second, with 90 percent of ballots counted.

Spain's incumbent conservatives finished stronger in Sunday's repeat election, winning more seats than in December polls though still without a majority, partial official results showed.

Exit polls had initially suggested that the far-left Unidos Podemos coalition had come second -- which would have been an unprecedented shift in Spain - but official results showed it was actually in third place after the Socialists.

The election came just three days after Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union, pitting those hungry for change in a country with high unemployment against those who fear it would torpedo Spain's slow economic recovery.

Brexit influenced?

Pre-election opinion polls had initially suggested that Spain's Socialist party would be overtaken by Unidos Podemos and thus ousted as the country's main left-wing force, but that did not happen.

And while it is as yet too early to tell, Thursday's shock Brexit may have had a hand in the results as voters decided to stick with long-established parties rather than go for the radical change promised by Podemos.

The results this time round were much the same as they were last December.

The PP came first, albeit without the absolute majority it needs - just as it did six months ago when Podemos and centre-right upstart Ciudadanos uprooted the country's two-party dominance.

But according to partial results based on more than 90 percent of votes cast, it won 137 seats -- more than the 123 it got in December.    

The Socialists meanwhile made it to second place, with Unidos Podemos and Ciudadanos third and fourth... just like six months ago.

That general election resulted in a 350-seat parliament so splintered that parties failed to agree on a coalition, and this is what has prompted Sunday's repeat vote.

All eyes will now be on subsequent coalition negotiations, with political leaders under more pressure this time to form some sort of government.

Safe pair of hands

Throughout the campaign - and again on Friday after the Brexit vote - the PP had hammered away at the need for stability in reference to the rise of Unidos Podemos, which like Greece's ruling Syriza party rejects EU-backed austerity and pledges to fight for the least well-off.

The coalition had responded with a message of calm aimed at defusing this criticism - the "o" of Unidos shaped as a heart in its slogan.

Incumbent prime minister Mariano Rajoy has argued that since the PP came to power in 2011, it has brought Spain back to growth and overseen a drop in unemployment - though at 21 percent it is still the second highest rate in the European Union after Greece.

But his rivals retort that inequalities have risen, the jobs created are mainly unstable, and they point to the repeated corruption scandals to have hit the PP.

Despite this, though, voters still went for the PP led by Rajoy, who has portrayed himself as a safe pair of hands.

Polls closed in Spain at 8pm and initial exit polls suggested that the PP had secured the largest vote winning an estimated 117 to 121 seats.

The exit polls showed Unidos Podemos has surpassed the PSOE to become the second largest party with 91 to 95 seats, the PSOE have 81 to 85 and Ciudadanos have 26 - 30 seats, according to poll conducted by Sigma Dos. 

 

 

The exit poll proved wrong as the Socialists retained their position as largest party on the left.

But despite initial excitement from Unidos Podemos the exit polls proved misleading and the leftist coalition failed to overtake the Socialists.

These were the results in December.

READ MORE Spanish elections: What are the possible outcomes?

With 36,518,100 voters eligible to cast their ballot today, data from polling stations showed that turnout was considerably down on the last election in December.

Data from polling stations at 2pm suggested a similar turnout to that seen in 2015, but by 6.30pm it became clear that turnout had dropped by seven percentage points.


Pablo Iglesias casting his vote in Madrid. Photo: AFP

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