Campaigning has come to a close in the tightest general election race Spain has seen in decades.
Polls suggest Sunday’s (December 20) vote will see the end of the traditional two-party system, putting the country’s reform agenda in jeopardy.
While incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party is pegged to win, it is predicted to lose its absolute parliamentary majority.
During the campaign, he refused to publically debate with anyone until the final week, when he went head-to-head with his main Socialist opponent, Pedro Sanchez.
On Friday (December 18), Rajoy finally rejected the idea the PP would form a coalition with the Socialists, in a push to prevent emerging parties from entering government.
“I don’t know who proposed that; I certainly didn’t,” he told state radio station RNE. “No one in the PP has made a proposal for such a coalition.”
The Socialists lost their grip on power in the 2011 election, with voters punishing them for Spain’s slide into economic crisis.
Having dominated Spain’s political scene since 1982, the PP and Socialists now have fresh competition from the far-left Podemos, under Pablo Iglesias and the centrist Ciudadanos, led by Albert Rivera.
Polls indicate they could gain almost 40 percent of the vote, with support from Ciudadanos likely to be crucial to any party’s chances of forming a government.
However, on Friday (December 18), Rivera said his party would not agree to a coalition if the PP wins.