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ELECTION

Results: Victory for Socialists but need pacts to govern

With almost all the results counted, Spain's Socialists have clearly won the most votes securing 122 seats but they could govern with the support of Podemos and smaller regional parties or with Ciudadanos.

Results: Victory for Socialists but need pacts to govern
The results calculated with 94 percent of the vote counted.

With 94 percent of the vote counted, the socialists show a clear lead winning 122 seats, well short of an overall majority but enough to govern if they garner the support of Podemos and smaller regional parties, including the Basques and Catalan separatists. 

Far-right party Vox looked set to win 24 seats, the first time a far-right party will enter parliament since Spain's transition to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco. 

Support for Vox eroded the share of the right-wing Popular Party, which saw its worst result in its history, securing just 65 seats, down from from 137 in 2016 at the last general election.

Ciudadanos saw a rise in support to 57 seats up from 32 in 2016.

Podemos appeared to have seen their support crushed dropping from 71 seats in 2016 to just 42 this time.

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The results show that although the PSOE falls well short of the magic 176 seats need for a majority in parliament, it could form a coalition if they can win the support of Podemos, but they will also need the regional Basque and Catalan parties to back them.

The PSOE could easily form a government and avoid having to rely on the fractious support of the Catalan separatists if Pedro Sanchez can form an alliance with Albert Rivera's Ciudadanos. 

The vote saw the collapse of the PP making it impossible for them to form a right-wing government even with the support of Ciudadanos and the newly emerged Vox party.

Turnout was at a record high with participation at a whopping 75 percent. 

READ MORE: What do the Spanish election results mean?

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ELECTION

Madrid puts off separatist talks over Catalan snap election

Spain's central government on Thursday said the announcement of snap elections in Catalonia would delay planned talks between Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and the region's separatist leadership.

Madrid puts off separatist talks over Catalan snap election
Catalan regional president Quim Torra (R) meets with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the Palacio de Pedralbes in Barcelona on December 20, 2018.Photo: AFP

News that the regional election would be brought forward was announced by regional president Quim Torra on Wednesday but he did not give a date, suggesting some time after mid-March.

The date was brought forward following a major dispute between Catalonia's two ruling separatist parties, Together for Catalonia (JxC) and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC).

The announcement came ahead of a key February 6 meeting in Barcelona between Torra and Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to lay the ground for talks on resolving the separatist conflict.

In response, Sanchez's office said the meeting would go ahead but that the negotiations would not begin until a new regional government was in place.   

“The government is hoping to be able to begin the dialogue after the Catalan people have spoken… as soon as the elections are over and there is a new (regional) government, then we will begin talking,” said a statement.

“The government remains willing to start the process of dialogue with the Catalan institutions to resolve the political conflict.”

The talks had been agreed as part of a deal with ERC in exchange for its support in getting Sanchez through a key investiture vote earlier this month.   

But the delay was swiftly denounced by the ERC as a “flagrant breach of the agreement which was completely irresponsible,” its party spokesman Sergi Sabria said.

Sanchez, who himself is in a fragile position at the head of a minority coalition government, still needs ERC's support to pass Spain's own much delayed national budget.

In a radio interview Thursday, Torra said he would bring up the right to self-determination and amnesty for the nine jailed Catalan separatist leaders when he meets Sanchez — both of which have already been rejected out of hand by the Socialist leader.

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