Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez looks set to regain power after his Socialists overcame a historic challenge by right-wing nationalists in elections on Sunday, a result he portrayed as a morale booster for the European Union.
In decades, the Socialists gained seats in one of Spain's most hotly contested elections, which featured the rise of far-right party Vox whose ultra-nationalist campaign echoed political trends across Europe where traditional parties have ceded to anti-immigration and eurosceptic forces.
However, the rise of Vox also splintered the right-wing vote, leading to fragmenting Spain's political landscape and playing into the hands of the Socialists, which won an almost 50 percent increase in seats.
"The Socialists have won the general election," Sanchez declared, smiling broadly as he addressed jubilant supporters at party headquarters in Madrid. Outside, hundreds celebrated in the street, waving red party flags and chanting 'Long live Spain' and 'Long live Socialism'.
"Social democracy has a great future because it has a great present and Spain is an example of that. We will form a pro-European government to strengthen and not weaken Europe," he added.
The result is likely to come as a relief for supporters of further European Union integration ahead of May 26 elections for European Parliament amid fears that Vox could have gained a share of power in Spain.