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Spain's Socialists weigh up going it alone in government after election

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A woman casts her vote during Spain's general election in Madrid, Spain
A woman casts her vote during Spain's general election in Madrid, Spain -
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REUTERS/Javier Barbancho
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  • Socialist party of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wins 2019 Spanish general election with 122 seats but fell short of a majority (176 seats).
  • Socialists play down talk of possible coalition options saying they may try to govern alone.
  • To form a coalition would mean an alliance either with left-wing Podemos and perhaps at least one Catalan separatist party – or with the centre-right.
  • Vox party wins 24 seats (over 10% of vote), becoming first far-right party to sit in parliament since 1982.
  • Conservative Popular Party loses 137 seats in Parliament.
  • Left-wing bloc (157 seats) triumphs over right-wing bloc (146 seats).
  • High voter turnout at over 75%.

Spain's ruling Socialists are weighing their options for forming a new government after they came top in Sunday's general election – but failed to win enough seats for an outright majority.

The PSOE party has played down talk of possible coalition options, saying it may try to govern alone.

The third election in Spain in four years delivered a deeply fragmented parliament that could spell prolonged political uncertainty. The Socialists have been ruling in minority, passing legislation with support from left-wing Podemos and small regional parties.

A jubilant Pedro Sanchez addressed supporters in the early hours of Monday morning as they celebrated into the small hours. Official results showed the Socialists claimed victory with 123 seats (29% of votes) but fell well short of a majority (176 seats).

Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo expressed confidence in a radio interview, while party officials said there was no hurry to decide.

"The Socialists will try to govern on their own," Calvo told Cadena Ser radio. "We have more than enough (votes) to steer this ship along the course it must follow."

Another senior party figure, Jose Luis Abalos, said after a strategy meeting that the party would "talk to all the groups and try to come to agreements" but that it was not desperate. "There will be those willing to cooperate," he said.

If Sanchez and his Socialists do seek a coalition partner, they could opt for a tricky alliance with Podemos that would probably require support from at least one Catalan separatist party. The alternative is to join forces with centre-right Ciudadanos, which risks upsetting socialist grassroots supporters.

The right-wing, conservative Popular Party (PP), which governed Spain until it was ejected from power in a no-confidence vote in 2018, saw its support fall dramatically to 66 seats, down from 137.

Vox bagged 24 seats, marking the first time a far-right party will enter parliament since the 1970s.

Centre-right Ciudadanos stood at 57 seats and far-left Unidas Podemos won 35 seats.

The left-wing bloc (Socialists and Podemos), with 157 seats in total, looked in a better position to form a government than the right-wing bloc (Popular Party, Ciudadanos and Vox) at 146 seats.

Speaking to reporters after partial results were announced, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said his party and the Socialists had "the willingness to work together in a coalition government."

Europe is watching

Sanchez said earlier that he would seek to form a pro-European government and his only condition for forming a government would be respecting the Constitution and promoting social justice.

'We will form a pro-European government to strengthen Europe, not to weaken it," he said.

Far-right to sit in parliament

"This is just the beginning," Vox leader Santiago Abascal Conde said after first results were announced.

"We're just starting what we're going to do. We have a voice in Congress," Conde continued, "a voice that didn't exist before. "

He promised Vox's 24 MPs would "not allow Barcelona nor Brussels to split us," and "defend the right to life" as well as "the interests of rural Spain."

Euronews' Carols Marlasca was at the Vox headquarters and said people were celebrating.

Results also highlighted how Vox has syphoned votes from the conservative Popular Party, which lost dozens of seats.

High voter turnout

Voter turnout stood at 75.75%, compared to 66.4% recorded in the previous election in June 2016.

Polls opened at 9 am CEST and closed at 8 pm CEST.

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