0718 GMT November 19, 2019
Opinion polls show the socialists in the lead, but likely to win slightly fewer seats than in April’s vote, while the conservative People’s Party (PP) could gain strength, and the far-right Vox could become the country’s third-largest party, just months after winning its first parliamentary seats, Reuters reported.
Spain has been struggling to put stable governments together since 2015, when new parties emerged from the financial crisis following decades during which power oscillated between the Socialists and the PP.
Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the election – the fourth in four years – betting that a new vote would strengthen his hand after his Socialist Party won in April but then failed to forge the alliances needed to form a government.
Sanchez avoided questions on Sunday about a likely political stalemate.
“Democracy is the best heritage of our parents and we must make the most of it ... I encourage Spaniards to vote and strengthen democracy with our vote,” he said after voting in the town of Pozuelo de Alarcon, just west of Madrid.
A minority government led by the Socialists appears the most likely outcome, opinion polls show, but an even bigger question is who the socialists may ally with and how long any government can last with a very fragmented parliament.
Many voters were still undecided days before the vote, meaning other scenarios are also possible.
One thing was certain on Sunday: voters are tired of being called to the polls - there were also regional and European Union elections this year. That alone increases the chances that parties will make more of an effort this time to reach a deal over governing and shy away from a repeat ballot.
“I’m not sure I’ll vote again, I was already in doubt this time around,” said Jose Antonio Fernandez Cela, a 51-year-old farm manager voting for the PP.
Referring to the likely rise of Vox, he added: “I think it’s normal because discontent takes people to the extremes.”
Violent protests by separatists last month in the northeastern region of Catalonia have overshadowed the campaign, delivering a boost to the right, and in particular to Vox and the PP, whose fiercely anti-separatist rhetoric has struck a chord with many voters.