Spain Prime Minister wins snap elections marked by far-right emergence

Supporters of Spanish far-right VOX party wave flags as they listen to their leader and candidate for prime minister Santiago Abascal delivering a speech during an election night rally in Madrid after Spain held general elections on April 28, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
With nearly all votes counted, Spain's socialist prime minister wins snap elections on Sunday but without the necessary majority to govern as far-right party Vox prepares to enter parliament for the first time since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

The results raise the specter of another period of instability for Spain since the end of two-party politics, with Pedro Sanchez having to forge alliances with hostile rivals in an environment that has soured since Catalonia's failed secession bid in 2017.

The most significant new development is the emergence of far-right party Vox in a country that has had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Sanchez's Socialist Party had gained over 120 lawmakers out of 350, or about 30 percent of votes, still far from an absolute majority.

That means Sanchez will have to forge agreements with far-left Podemos and possibly smaller groupings like Catalan separatist parties, as he did over the past 10 months.

The partial results, meanwhile, show the conservative Popular Party (PP) getting a drubbing and the three right-wing parties competing in the elections failing to gain enough votes to form a majority.

After a tense campaign, voter turnout was high -- more than 75 percent -- up from 66.48 percent at the same time in 2016, election authorities said.Far-right emergence

The emergence of Vox at a national level comes after it burst onto the scene in December regional polls in southern Andalusia, gaining nearly 11 percent of votes.

Founded by a disgruntled former member of the PP, partial results give it 23 seats in the national parliament.

Chronic instability?

Sanchez would rather not have to rely once again on Catalan separatist lawmakers in the national parliament, given right-wing parties' accusations that he cosied up with the "enemies of Spain" during his time in government. But he may have no choice.

A possible alliance with Ciudadanos has not been ruled out, even if the party's leader Albert Rivera has made "chasing" the socialists from power a "national urgency".

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