Spain is awaiting the results of a general election that could see a coalition of conservative and right-wing parties beat the Socialists.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialists Workers Party is trying to win a third consecutive national election since taking power in 2018. But his Socialists and the other party in his leftist coalition took a beating in regional and local elections in May.
The mainstream conservative Popular Party, which led most polling during the campaign, is hoping that its first national victory since 2016 could let candidate Alberto Núñez Feijóo unseat Sánchez. But it would need the help of far-right Vox to do so.
A PP-Vox government would mean another EU member has moved firmly to the right, following similar developments in Sweden, Finland and Italy.
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Spain’s two main leftist parties are pro-EU participation. On the right, the PP is also in favor of the EU. Vox, headed by Santiago Abascal, is opposed to EU interference in Spain’s affairs.
An embargoed tracking poll published by Spanish public broadcaster RTVE on the closing of the voting projected that the conservative Popular Party would win the elections with between 145-150 seats. The far-right Vox would get between 24-27.
But they would both have to get results at the high end of those possible outcomes to reach the 176 needed for a majority.
The tracking poll said that Sánchez’s Socialists are heading toward a result between 113-118, not far below the 120 won in 2019. But Sánchez’s path to remaining in power once again would rely on both a new coalition with the leftist Sumar, or Joining Forces, tipped to fill 28-31 seats, and winning the support of myriad small parties, including Basque and Catalan regionalist and separatist parties.
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Sumar, which brings together 15 small leftist parties, is led by second Deputy Prime Minister Yolanda Díaz, the only woman among the top four candidates.
The Interior Ministry said voter turnout at 6 p.m. local time stood at 53%, compared to 56% at the same point in the country’s last national election, in November 2019.
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With no party expected to garner an absolute majority, the choice is basically between another leftist coalition and a partnership of the right and the far right.
Voters are to elect 350 members to the lower house of Parliament and 208 members to the Senate.
The government said that all polling stations were running as normal.
Sánchez’s government has steered Spain through the COVID-19 pandemic and dealt with an inflation-driven economic downturn made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But his dependency on fringe parties to keep his minority coalition afloat, including the separatist forces from Catalonia and the Basque Country, and his passing of a slew of liberal-minded laws may cost him his job.
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The right-wing parties vow to roll back dozens of Sánchez’s laws, many of which have benefited millions of citizens and thousands of companies.
Near-final results were expected before midnight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.