Spain’s conservatives win general election, but no majority government

MADRID, June 26 (UPI) — Conservatives won Spain’s second general election in six months Sunday, but with not enough seats to form a majority government.

The conservative Popular Party have picked up the most seats — 137 in all — in the 350-member parliament. It’s an improvement from 123 the PP won in December’s previous general election, but still short of the 176 required to its own government.

Negotiations for a coalition will begin with pressure on the country’s political leaders to try and form a government. The PP’s Mariano Rajoy, who was serving as the caretaker prime minister, said his party has won the election and earned the right to govern.

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The centre-left Socialist Party won 85 seats, and the Unidos Podemos, or United We Can party, that is itself a coalition of Greens, communists and the Podemos protest movement finished third, winning 71 seats. Voter turnout was low with only about 50 percent of eligible voters making it to the polls.

The conservative Popular Party received the most votes in the December election but did not get a majority in parliament. Incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the Popular Party, was not able to get enough members of rival parties to form a minority government, The Guardian reported.

Spain is making its way out of a deep recession that resulted in cuts to health services and public education. It continues to have the second highest unemployment rate in Europe at 20 percent, behind Greece, Sky News reported.

Still, with this being the first election in Europe since Brexit – Britain’s vote last week to exit the European Union – other countries are watching to see if Spaniards will seek some reassurance by backing the People’s Party or seek an alternative.

“It is really important to convey a message of institutional and economic stability,” Rajoy said during a televised address following Brexit. “It is not the moment to fuel or increase uncertainty.”

Political risk advisor Antonio Barroso said, however, that he expects more of the same from the Sunday poll.

“I think what we’re going to have on Sunday is essentially another highly fragmented parliament with a PP victory,” Barroso said.

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