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Spanish left scores surprise election win

SPAIN’S left-of-centre parties pulled off a surprise win in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, final results showed today, dispelling fears that the far-right Vox party would enter national government for the first time.

Although the conservative Popular Party (PP) picked up more seats than any other single party, a drop in support for Vox, with which the PP had been expected to form a coalition, left the Spanish Socialist Workers Party of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and its allies with a slightly stronger presence in the lower house Congress of Deputies.

The bloc likely to support Mr Sanchez totalled 172 seats, while parties on the right had 170.

“This is a major victory for the left,” political science lecturer Dr Jason Xidias of New York University’s Madrid campus said today.

Negotiations in coming weeks, in which smaller regional parties could offer their support for a government in return for concessions, will be “very complicated,” Dr Xidias said.

Mr Sanchez’s chances of gaining the support of the 176 deputies needed for an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament are not great, so a rerun of the elections could be on the cards.

The close result has made Catalan separatist party Junts (Together) key to Mr Sanchez’s prospects of forming a government. But if Junts asked for a referendum on independence for Catalonia, that would probably be too high a price for the Socialist leader to pay.

With all votes counted, the Popular Party collected 136 seats of the 350 up for grabs — well below poll predictions. Even with the 33 Vox seats and the one seat going to an allied party, the PP was still seven seats short of a majority.

The Socialists gathered 122 seats, two more than previously. Mr Sanchez could probably call on the 31 seats of his junior coalition partner Sumar (Joining Forces) and several smaller parties to at least total more than the sum of the right-wing parties, but he would still fall four short of a majority unless Junts joined them.

“The backward-looking bloc that wanted to undo all that we have done has failed,” Mr Sanchez told a jubilant crowd at his party’s headquarters in Madrid.

Vox campaigned on plans to scrap gender violence laws and both it and the PP agreed on repealing a new transgender rights law and a democratic memory law that seeks to help families wanting to unearth the thousands of victims of Francisco Franco’s fascist regime still missing in mass graves.

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