Acting Prime Minister and People's Party leader Mariano Rajoy wins victory in Spain's general election and announces negotiation with all parties in order to try to form a government
The winner if Spain's elections Mariano Rajoy, hopes to set a coalition government within a month after his party won the general elections.
Acting Prime Minister Rajoy's centre-right People's Party (PP) emerged with the single largest bloc of seats, but fell short of the 176 required to attain a majority in the parliament.
"I have to try to reach a majority to govern because without it, it's very difficult," Rajoy told Spanish radio.
"I believe that within a month we should have a deal on the basics. It would be nonsense to lose time for several more months."
Spanish elections delivered a hung parliament for the second time in six months on Sunday, adding to political uncertainty in Europe after last week's shock Brexit vote.
The results piled intense pressure on Spain's warring politicians to form a government, leaving the euro zone's fourth-largest economy at risk of another lengthy political stalemate.
The PP was the only major party to increase its share of seats from December's inconclusive poll.
The PP gained 137 seats, The Socialists got 85, The Unidos Podemos coalition secured 71 while Ciudadanos obtained 32 seats.
The jump in support for the PP reversed a trend to back start-up parties that have channeled resentment towards the establishment after an economic crisis and a series of corruption scandals.
Exit polls had initially suggested that the far-left Unidos Podemos coalition had come second — which would have been an unprecedented shift in Spain.
This time, politicians will be under pressure to reach a deal quickly given the uncertainty and confusion sweeping Europe after Britain's shock vote to leave the European Union last week.
Spain now enters another round of backroom talks to see which parties can form a governing coalition, a task that eluded them despite months of negotiations following the December vote.
Options to form a government include a centre-right pact between the PP and liberal newcomer Ciudadanos, a German-style grand coalition between the PP and the Socialists, or even a minority PP administration.
Rajoy was all smiles as he looked down from a tall podium on a crowd of supporters waving blue flags and shouting "yes we can!" — stealing Podemos' key catchphrase.
"It's been hard, it's been difficult, it's been complicated, but we put up a fight for Spain," the 61-year-old said.
Rajoy said on Sunday his centre-right PP had won a parliamentary election and therefore claimed the right to govern.
He also announced talks with all parties in order to try to form a government.
Spain's newcomer liberal party, Ciudadanos, is ready to immediately open talks with the PP to form a government after Sunday's general election, Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said.
A tie-up of the two would still be seven seats short of a majority, although they could potentially attract a further six seats from regional parties from the Basque Country and the Canary Islands.
While it is as yet too early to tell, Thursday's shock Brexit may have had a hand in the results as voters decided to stick with long-established parties rather than go for the radical change promised by Podemos.
David Rico, a 39-year-old computer engineer in Madrid, is one such person. He said he had always voted for the Socialists and would continue to do so.
"The new parties have no experience," he told AFP. "This isn't the time (to experiment). Look at the change in Britain — the stock market plunged."
The official results this time around were much the same as they were last December with the PP coming first, albeit without the absolute majority it needs, bagging 14 seats more than it did six months ago.
The Socialists meanwhile made it to second place like in December, though with just 85 seats, their worst score in modern history.
Unidos Podemos grabbed 71 seats, coming third, while Ciudadanos came in fourth.
The general election in December had resulted in a 350-seat parliament so splintered that parties failed to agree on a coalition, and this is what has prompted Sunday's repeat vote.
All eyes will now be on subsequent coalition negotiations, with political leaders under more pressure this time to form some sort of government.
Safe pair of hands
Throughout the campaign — and again on Friday after the Brexit vote — the PP had hammered away at the need for stability in reference to the rise of Unidos Podemos.
"The results are not satisfactory, we had different expectations," Pablo Iglesias, the pony-tailed chief of Unidos Podemos, told reporters, his face sombre.
The coalition had responded with a message of calm aimed at defusing this criticism — the "o" of Unidos shaped as a heart in its slogan.
Rajoy has argued that since the PP came to power in 2011, it has brought Spain back to growth and overseen a drop in unemployment — though at 21 percent it is still the second highest rate in the European Union after Greece.
But his rivals retort that inequalities have risen, the jobs created are mainly unstable, and they point to the repeated corruption scandals to have hit the PP.
Depite this, though, voters still went for the PP led by Rajoy, who has portrayed himself as a safe pair of hands.
Dancing while waving her PP flag in Madrid, Isabel Garcia Arias, a 70-year-old retired sports teacher, said the party represented "security for Spain."
She added it had been particularly important to vote conservative this time round, "as we had the populists coming," in reference to Unidos Podemos.
Luis Fernandez, a 37-year-old community organiser, said he had voted for the Socialists in the past but would vote for Rajoy this time around.
"I prefer the devil I know rather than the devil I don't know," he said at Madrid's El Rastro flea market.