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Spain: Right remains short of willing coalition allies

New group repeats left’s strong showing at polls

SPAIN looked set for further uncertainty yesterday as no party came close to winning a parliamentary majority in Sunday’s election.

The right-wing Popular Party of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy topped the poll with 33 per cent of the vote and 137 seats, well short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

The Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) came second on 23 per cent and 85 seats — its worst result since the return of democracy in the 1970s — but defied predictions that it would fall into third place behind the left-wing Unidos Podemos alliance, which won 21 per cent and 71.

Analysts said the PM could seek a deal with fourth-placed Ciudadanos (Citizens), which won 32 seats, but that would still leave him seven seats short of the 176 needed.

Turnout, at 51 per cent, was the lowest since the toppling of the fascist dictatorship.

The PSOE rejected Mr Rajoy’s suggestion of a “grand coalition” yesterday, with party spokesman Antonio Hernando saying it would neither support him as prime minister nor abstain on the issue.

Unidos Podemos, a newly formed alliance of the United Left — which includes the Communist Party of Spain — and the left populist Podemos, vowed to continue the united socialist front.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said: “Spain’s future will involve Unidos Podemos” and congratulated activists on having broken the two-party system in the country.

United Left’s Alberto Garzon said: “We will not kneel down, but keep building.”

The European United Left/Nordic Green Left congratulated the party, saying that despite not meeting some poll predictions, maintaining December’s level of support was “quite an achievement.

“Continuous support for leftist parties is a clear reflection of widespread public anger over austerity across Europe,” group president Gabi Zimmer said.

Ms Zimmer, a continuous member of the German Democratic Republic’s Socialist Unity Party and its successors since 1981, warned that the election result should be another warning for EU leaders but did not endorse calls for its break-up.

“The EU will only have a future if there is a radical change towards a more social and democratic union for the benefit of its citizens, not for the banks and multinationals,” she said.


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