Catalan MEP is 'elected', court advisor says

Spanish elections: Socialists 'lead amid right-wing surge'

Spain votes as Catalonia tensions mount

The conservative People's Party (PP), which alternated in government with the Socialists for decades after Spain emerged from General Francisco Franco's dictatorship in the 1970s, recovered from a disappointing result in April to take 88 seats.

The outcome will require party leaders to be creative, negotiate seriously this time and, for some, swallow their pride, after higher abstention rates on Sunday showed that voters are exhausted of being called repeatedly to the ballot box.

Sanchez has called on all political parties to be "responsible" and "generous" to help the Socialists to form a government to end the political deadlock that has lasted for months.

France's far-right party leader Marine Le Pen congratulated Vox on Twitter, praising what she called its "staggering progress".

This time Vox could double that number, polls suggest.

"They are the new fascism", Giobelina said.

The preliminary results once again leave with a divided Congress of Deputies (the lower chamber in the Spanish parliament) in which it is hard to see how political parties will be able to find the support to form a government.

The power balance between the traditional ideological blocs has changed little since the April election but the breakdown of votes within conservative parties shifted substantially.

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"These elections have allowed the right to grow stronger and now we have an extreme right which is among the most powerful and strong in Europe", said Iglesias whose party also suffered a slide, dropping to 35 seats from 42 in April. 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.

The next step will be for parliamentarians to select a house speaker in the coming weeks and then for talks between King Felipe VI and party leaders to begin so that one of them, most likely Sanchez, will be called on to try to form a government.

Julia Giobelina, a 34-year-old web designer from Madrid, was angry at having to vote for the second time this year.

Spain's Supreme Court on Sunday (5 May) said Catalonia's former president Carles Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in 2017 after a secession attempt, could contest European Union polls this month.

Vox relied on its anti-migrant message and attacks on laws that protect women from domestic abuse as well as what it considers leftist ideology disguised as political correctness. "PSOE will work to unblock the political situation", Sanchez told party supporters after the elections, adding that there would not be another snap general election in the country.

The debate over Catalonia, meanwhile, promises to fester.

The Catalan issue promises to continue festering with three Catalan separatist parties winning a combined 23 seats Sunday.

The campaign took place on the heels of fresh unrest in Catalonia after Spain's top court sentenced nine separatist leaders to lengthy jail terms over their role in a failed 2017 independence bid. The ruling has triggered massive daily protests in Catalonia that left more than 500 people injured, roughly half of them police officers, and dozens arrested.

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