Spain went to the polls on Sunday and chose virtually along the same lines as they did last December, with the PP securing the most votes but not enough to win a majority in parliament.
Here are the most important takeaways from the general election of June 26th.
Big win for the PP and Rajoy
Few thought that the conservative party could actually improve in the repeat elections. But they proved to be the big winners in the vote, securing an extra 14 seats on the result six months ago but their 137 seats are still far short of the 176 needed for a majority.
A jubilant Mariano Rajoy was jumping up and down with joy on the balcony of PP headquarters in Madrid last night, secure in the knowledge that for the time being at least he had a mandate to govern, even if all other parties have said any deal with the PP could only happen with a change in leadership.
“We have won the elections,” Rajoy told hundreds of cheering supporters outside PP headquarters in Madrid late on Sunday.
“We claim our right to govern.”
Podemos proves a big disappointment
The shock of election night came when exit polls proved to be far off the mark and the anti-austerity, anti-establishment lefty grouping Unidos Podemos failed to secure its vote.
Polls running up the vote and exit polls on the day itself all suggested that the coalition led by pony-tailed professor Pablo Iglesias was set to increase its vote and surpass the Socialists to become the main leftist force in the parliament.
Such a result would have given it the upper hand to form a leftist coalition, upending the traditional political class in Spain.
But instead it only secured 71 seats, unchanged from the December result and left firebrand upstarts feeling rather flat.
Socialists maintain dignity despite losses
The Socialists were punished at the polls, losing a further five seats from last December when they recorded their worst election result ever. And yet they still managed to spin into a success of sorts because the party managed to cling on as the biggest left-wing force in politics.
Had Podemos overtaken them to the second spot, it is unlikely that Pedro Sánchez could have survived as leader. As it stands, he didn’t do too badly after all.
“Despite the predictions, the PSOE has confirmed that it is the dominant party on the left,” Sánchez told supporters.
Ciudadanos are the biggest losers
Once hailed as the crucial kingmaker, the party of Albert Rivera was the biggest loser in round two.
The only party that had seemed ready and willing to form pacts eventually teaming up with the Socialist party, was hammered on polling day, losing a fifth of the 40 seats it won last December.
The centrist party, which is pro-business but stands against corruption, is seen by many as a natural partner to the PP but has refused to work with Rajoy because of his failure to tackle endemic corruption with the party.
Their readiness to team up with the Socialists may have scared away conservatives who viewed them as an alternative to the establishment PP.
The Brexit effect
The UK referendum result and subsequent contagion – causing Spain’s Ibex share index to come crashing down on Friday – is widely considered to have caused a last minute swerve towards the PP and the stability and experience they promise.
Could fears over the after effects of Brexit on Spain’s fragile economic recovery have sent voters considering a flutter with the unknown hurtling back to the traditional parties? It would certainly explain why the final result differed so wildly from polls showing voting intentions.
Third election looming
The big question that everyone wants answering is will Spain be able to form a government or will it limp on rudderless to a third election?
Rajoy is certainly in a better position than he was but even if he did persuade Rivera to work with him, the two parties combined still fall short of the necessary 176 seats needed to form a majority in the 350-seat Congress.
The Socialists were swift to rule out supporting Rajoy in the formation of a German-style grand-coalition but they could agree to abstain to allow Rajoy’s investiture for the sake of ending the deadlock to form a government.
Such a move would allow the PP to run a minority government likely fraught with conflict and powerless to pass legislation, likely sparking a repeat poll within the year.