Spain could have its first far-right participation in government since the days of Franco after an election exit poll suggested a swing to the right.
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez is trying to win a third consecutive national election but an exit poll predicted that a right-wing coalition may have enough votes to take power.
The centre-right People’s Party was set to win 150 seats, while the anti-Muslim, anti-feminist Vox party had 31 seats, according to a GAD3 voter survey released after polls closed. Together this would give the parties enough for a majority in the 350-seat parliament.
However a survey by Sigma Dos was less conclusive, predicting 145-150 seats for PP and 24-27 seats for Vox, which could mean the two parties would fall short at the lower range of its poll.
The Socialists were set to win 112 seats, according to GAD3, and 113-118 seats according to Sigma Dos, while the far-left platform led by Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz had either 27 seats or 28-31 seats.
GAD3 said its poll surveyed 10,000 people and closed on July 22. The Sigma Dos survey of 17,000 people closed on Sunday.
If both the left-wing and right-wing bloc fail to meet the threshold for the number of seats required to govern, new elections may have to be called – as happened in 2019 and 2015.
After casting his vote, Mr Sánchez said: “What happens today is going to be very important not just for us but also for Europe and I think that should also make us reflect.”
The secretary general of the conservative People’s Party (PP), Cuca Gamarra, told Spanish TV after the vote that the PP was about to “recover the position of first political force in a general election”.
The Interior Ministry said voter turnout at 6pm local time stood at 53 per cent, compared with 56 per cent at the same point in the the country’s last national election, in November 2019.
The election was taking place at the height of summer, with millions of voters likely to be holidaying away from their regular polling places. However, postal voting requests soared before Sunday.
With no party expected to garner an absolute majority, the choice is basically between another leftist coalition and a partnership of the right and the far right.
Far-right party Vox proposes the expulsion of illegal migrants and a naval blockade to stop them arriving, and the closure of radical mosques, while supporting immigration meeting Spain‘s labour market needs and from nationalities sharing language or culture.
It has also vowed to repeal progressive laws on transgender rights, abortion and animal rights, along with climate protections promoted by Sanchez. Mr Abascal has said Vox doesn’t have a position on Spain‘s former dictator Franco, who ruled until his death in 1975 after winning a bloody civil war in 1939. But Mr Abascal has also said that Mr Sanchez’s government was the worst in 80 years, a period that includes Franco’s regime.
Agencies contributed to this report.