Spanish voters fail to agree on a new leader in indecisive second election
SPAIN’S second general election in six months has done little to clear up the political uncertainty that has reigned in the country since December’s ballot, with voters again giving conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy victory without a majority.
With 98 per cent of the vote count- ed, his ruling Popular Party (PP) was on course to win 33 per cent of the vote and 137 out of the 350 seats in Congress.
The eurozone’s fourth-biggest economy faces an unclear future as rival party leaders had all previously ruled out a coalition deal, which would mean another term in office for Mr Rajoy, who has been tainted by a series of corruption scandals.
The predicted leap forward by antiausterity party Podemos did not materialise, and the traditional party of the Left, the Socialist (PSOE) party was expected to finish second with 23 per cent of the vote.
PSOE and Podemos will not be able to form a majority between them, while Ciudadanos – a centrist party which could work with the Socialists or the
PP – also lost ground, with just 13 per cent of the vote.
Pablo Iglesias, the Podemos leader, admitted that his party’s 21 per cent result was a huge disappointment.
“We had very different expectations,” he said.
Mr Rajoy attempted to use the threat of a spiralling European crisis caused by the UK’s Brexit decision to win over undecided voters at the end of the campaign, warning that Spain was in no position to try out “experiments” in government.
More than 12 per cent was wiped off Spain’s Ibex 35 blue-chip stock index on Friday as investors reacted to news of Britain’s referendum result. It was the single worst day in the market’s history.
Before the ballot, Mr Rajoy had said he wanted to form a grand coalition with PSOE and the centrist Ciudadanos, only to be rebuffed by other party leaders, who said they would not accept him as prime minister.
Having won the elections in December, Mr Rajoy controversially declined the nomination of Spain’s King Felipe as candidate for prime minister before parliament. Pedro Sánchez, the Socialist PSOE leader, took up the gauntlet instead.
But he failed to win a majority after striking a deal with Ciudadanos but failing to agree on key policy issues with Podemos, notably the latter’s insistence on a holding referendum in Catalonia on the north-eastern region’s independence from Spain.
Supporters of Spain’s Popular Party (PP) hold flags and placards in Madrid as the country went to the polls for the second time in six months to try to find a solution that would give it a stable government