What do the election results mean for Spain?

The Socialists continue to be the largest single party but again fell short of an absolute majority while far-right Vox surged to become the third political power in Spain.

What do the election results mean for Spain?
This map shows the winning parties in each province across Spain.

So who are the winners? Who are the losers? And what do these results mean for Spain? 


A win for the Socialists

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez'sSocialists were on track to win Sunday's repeat election as first results confirmed a surge in support for the far-right Vox party, which was seen coming third with three-quarters of the votes counted.

With 96 percent of the vote counted, results showed the the Socialists winning 122 of the parliament's 350 seats with around 28.5 percent of votes cast, while Vox had 53 seats, more than doubling the number the party won last time round.

Vindication for Pablo Casado, leader of the PP

The results showed the rightwing Popular Party coming second with 84, up from 66 in the previous poll in what will be seen as huge turn around for party leader Pablo Casado.   

READ MORE: Spanish election results: Socialists win most seats, PP and Vox make huge gains, C's collapse

Huge surge in support for Vox

Photos: AFP

Spain's fourth election in as many years has been overshadowed by theongoing Catalan separatist crisis which has cranked up support for Vox.

The party only made parliamentary debut in April when it won 24 mandates in the biggest showing by the far-right since Spain returned to democracy after dictator Francisco Franco's death in 1975.

In recent days, Sanchez has repeatedly raised the alarm about Vox's “aggressive ultra-rightwing” policies, warning the party would drag the country back to the dark days of Franco's dictatorship.

Voter fatigue

The last election produced a near-record 76 percent turnout, which helped Sanchez who had mobilised left-leaning voters to oppose Vox.   

But participation this time round dropped to 69 percent.

The end of Ciudadanos

The party led by Albert Rivera was dealt a crushing defeat, losing its place as the third political force to become the sixth party in Spain's congress dropping from 57 seats to just ten.

Rise of the Catalan separatists

Not surprisingly, given the recent protests, parties calling for Catalonia to break away from Spain fared very well winning 13 seats in total. Interestingly, Barcelona went to the Socialists while the remaining provinces in the northeastern region went to the separatists.

More paralysis

Spain has been mired in political paralysis for four years since Podemos and business-friendly Ciudadanos entered parliament following a December 2015 election that shattered the decades-long hegemony of the Socialists and conservative Popular Party (PP).

And there is there is a good risk Sunday's vote will only prolong the agony in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

With no single party able to secure the required 176 seats for a majority, the Socialists are likely to opt for a minority government — but that would only work if the PP abstained in an investiture vote, said Teneo analyst Antonio Barroso.

“Vox's rise creates a serious dilemma for PP: facilitate a Socialist-led government, which would leave the centre-right party vulnerable to Vox's attacks, or going to another election with Vox on the rise,” he tweeted.

“Government formation is going to take time (again), and Spain might go into the Christmas break without a government.”

READ MORE: Spanish election results: Socialists win most seats, PP and Vox make huge gains, C's collapse

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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.