No single party or bloc is on course to win an outright majority in Spain’s snap general election, according to a tally with about 99 percent of votes counted.
The conservative People’s Party (PP) was set to narrowly win the election on Sunday but without the majority needed to topple the coalition government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
The PP was on course to secure 136 of the 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the Spanish parliament.
Sanchez’s Spanish Socialist Workers Party was poised to take 122 seats, two more than it had in the outgoing legislature.
Although the Socialists can likely call on the predicted 31 seats of the left-wing Sumar (Joining Forces) alliance and several smaller parties to assemble more than the sum of Spain’s right-wing parties, there is a real possibility that neither side will be able to secure a majority.
The far-right Vox party was on 33 seats, still the third-largest force in parliament if 19 below its 2019 result, and their hypothetical tie-up with the PP falling short of an outright majority of 176 seats.
Pre-election polls had predicted a bigger victory for the PP and the possibility for it to form a coalition with Vox.
The close outcome could lead to weeks of political jockeying. The next prime minister would only be voted on once legislators are installed in the new parliament.
‘A divided country’
Pablo Calderon Martinez, a professor at Northeastern University, told Al Jazeera the preliminary election results revealed a “divided country” as both blocs fell short of a majority.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how they negotiate the next government,” Calderon Martinez said.
He said the left-wing bloc had performed better than predicted by most polls.
“The Socialist camp is going to be the happier of the two,” he said, adding that it was “a forgone conclusion” that the PP would have turned out to be the largest party in Congress.