Spain votes in repeat general election amid Catalonia tensions

MADRID (AFP) – 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 upstart far-right party Vox.

The repeat polls were called after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez failed to secure support from other parties following an inconclusive election in April which saw his Socialist party win the most votes, but no working majority in parliament.

Opinion polls however suggest this new election will fail to break the deadlock.

Neither the left nor the right look likely to win a ruling majority in Spain’s 350-seat parliament.

The Socialists look set to finish top again, but with slightly fewer seats than the 123 they picked up in April. The main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) may also strengthen their parliamentary presence.

But the most striking development could be the rise of the far-right Vox party, which might even jump to third-largest in parliament, according to recent polling.

“More ungovernability or stability: Spaniards choose,” wrote conservative newspaper ABC on its front page last Sunday.

Voting stations opened at 9am and closed at 8pm, with results expected a few hours later.

The election comes as Spain finds itself increasingly polarised by the Catalan crisis, which has deepened in recent weeks.

Spanish incumbent prime minister and Socialist Party (PSOE) candidate for re-election, Pedro Sanchez, casts his ballot at a polling station in Pozuelo de Alarcon. PHOTO: AFP