Abu Dhabi


New York

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Voting Starts in Spain with Suspense High After Tense Campaign


7Dnews London

Sun, 28 Apr 2019 10:32 GMT

Voting started on Sunday April 28th in Spain's most divisive and open-ended election in decades, which looks set to result in a fragmented parliament in which the far-right will get a sizeable presence for the first time since the country's return to democracy.

After a tense campaign dominated by issues such as national identity and gender equality, the likelihood that any coalition deal will take weeks or months to be brokered will feed into a broader mood of political uncertainty across Europe.

At least five parties from across the political spectrum have a chance of being in government and they could struggle to agree on a deal between them, meaning a repeat election is one of several possible outcomes, Reuters has reported.

A few things are clear, however, based on opinion polls and conversations with party insiders. No single party will get a majority; the Socialist party of outgoing prime minister Pedro Sanchez is leading the race; and there will be legislators from the far-right Vox party.

Beyond that, the result is too close to call.

Voting started at 9 am (0700 GMT) and ends at 8 pm in mainland Spain for what will be the country's third national election in four years, each of which has brought a further dislocation of the political landscape.

"After many years of instability and uncertainty, it's important that today we send a clear, defined message about the Spain we want. And from there a broad parliamentary majority must be built that can support a stable government," Sanchez told reporters after voting in a polling station near Madrid.

It is uncertain if Sanchez will manage to stay in office and how many allies he would need to gather together in order to do so.

If, in addition to far-left anti-austerity party Podemos and other small parties, Sanchez also needs the support of Catalan separatist legislators, talks will be long and their outcome unclear.

The opinion polls, which ended on April 22nd, have suggested it will be harder for a right wing split between three parties - the centre-right Ciudadanos, conservative People's Party and Vox - to clinch a majority, but this scenario is within polls' margin of error and cannot be ruled out.