Spanish elections: Socialists win majority of votes but far-right Vox surges

Voters came out in force, with 73.74 per cent of the population heading to the polling stations

epa07535408 Spanish Prime Minister and Secretary General of Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez, gestures to supporters after winning the general elections at the Socialist Party headquarter in Madrid, Spain, 28 April 2019. Nearly 36.9 million people were called to vote in the third Spanish general elections in four years.  EPA/JuanJo Martin

Spain voted for a hung parliament on Sunday, with the Socialist party of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gaining a lead but not securing enough seats for a parliamentary majority.

Mr Sanchez's party declared victory with 123 seats, while fellow left-wing party Podemos won 42 seats.

It was also a successful night for the far-right Vox, which took 24 seats, making it the first such party to sit in Spain's Parliament since 1982.

Vox opposes multiculturalism and feminism, and adapts the motto of US President Donald Trump to “make Spain great again".

It was a humiliating evening for more moderate conservatives.

Pablo Casado's People’s Party slumped to its lowest result in decades, taking only 66 seats.

Meanwhile, centre-right party Citizens won 57 seats. Addressing supporters, Mr Casado admitted that it was a bad election result.

Mr Sanchez called the general election after his budget was defeated by the right-wing opposition and Catalan separatists in February.

There was a huge voter turnout for the election, with 73.74 per cent of the population heading to the polling stations.

Pablo Iglesias Turrion, secretary general of Podemos, called Mr Sanchez to congratulate him on the results.

“Our result is enough to fulfil our objectives of this electoral campaign: stop right and form a government of the left,” Mr Iglesias said.

He said he was willing to form a coalition with Mr Sanchez to make a left-wing government.

But a coalition between the two parties would not form a majority, so it will seek the support of Basque nationalists and independent MPs.

Many Spaniards are likely to be infuriated with a left-wing coalition given the high turnout for Vox.

The results shine a light on a polarised electorate and will probably to lead to months of negotiations to form a government in a divided parliament.

Sunday’s national election was the third in four years and the first two weakened the dominance of the two largest parties in Spain, the Socialists and the conservative People's Party.

In recent years, politics in Europe has become increasingly fragmented, with other countries such as Italy and the UK seeing the rise of far-right and populist parties.

Vox leader Santiago Abascal has euphorically celebrated his new party's results.

"We told you that we were going to begin a reconquering of Spain and that's what we have done," said Mr Abascal, 43.

He said that the 24 legislators from Vox that will sit in Spain's lower house of Parliament would be enough for the party to set the political agenda.