Spanish election: Sánchez set to fall short of majority

The unrest in Catalonia has loomed large over the election

The unrest in Catalonia has loomed large over the election

Opinion polls ahead of the vote have consistently shown no single party winning a majority.

Spain voted yesterday in its fourth general election in as many years amid heightened tensions over Catalonia's separatist push, an issue that has fuelled a surge in support for the upstart far-right party Vox.

The last general election in April also saw the Socialists win the most votes, but fall short of a majority. Around 37 million citizens are being asked to elect 350 members of Congress and 208 senators in an election that surveys show is likely to yield a fractured parliament. Polls in the Canary Islands remain open for another hour.

The far-right Vox was seen as the biggest gainer, with GAD3 forecasting it to more than double its representation from the 24 seats with which it debuted in parliament in April.

REUTERS/Rafael Marchante Spain's acting Prime Minister and Socialist Party (PSOE) leader and candidate Pedro Sanchez talks to media as he attends voting during Spain's general election in Pozuelo de Alarcon, outside Madrid, Spain, November 10, 2019.

Sunday's repeated election was called after the Socialists and United We Can, now Spain's fourth-largest party in parliament, failed to reach an agreement following the last election in April.

The governing Socialist Workers' Party wants the standoff to be resolved through dialogue.

Spain's main parties focused their campaigns the independence crisis in Catalonia, as well as the threat of Vox's grown popularity. As of 6 pm, 56.8 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots, down from 60.7 percent in the April 28 election.

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world.

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The turnout in this Sunday's Spanish general election was 56,8% at 6 p.m. (1700 GMT), nearly four points below that recorded in the previous elections on 28 April, when it was 60,7%.

Less than a month ago, the Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to lengthy jail terms over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid, sparking days of angry street protests in Barcelona and other Catalan cities that sometimes turned violent.

During a TV election debate PP leader Pablo Casado called for a "real government that will put order in Catalonia".

But Vox, headed by Santiago Abascal, appears to have capitalized on Spanish nationalist sentiment stirred up by the Catalan conflict.

"Drastic solutions are needed", he said during his final campaign rally on Friday night in Madrid.

The crowd responded by chanting "Torra to the dungeon".

In total, more than 92,000 police will be deployed across Spain to safeguard the vote.

Spain, a country which returned to democracy after a near four-decade right wing dictatorship under late Gen. Francisco Franco, used to take pride in claiming no far-right group had seats in the national parliament, unlike the rest of Europe.

Meanwhile, Vox, which secured its first parliamentary seats in the previous election, could see its seats almost double from 24 to 46.

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