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Spain's conservative Popular Party top polls, well short of majority

Figures show the ruling Popular Party has won the most votes in Spain's general election, but has fallen well short of a majority. However, a bloc of several left-wing parties could have enough seats to form a coalition.

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Spain: Conservatives remain largest party

Spanish politicians spoke of a new era in the country's politics Sunday night after two upstart parties made major inroads, effectively diminishing the power of the country's two established parties.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party won the most votes but failed to clinch a majority in the lower house of Parliament. With nearly all of the votes counted, the conservative party was projected to win 122 seats, a significant step down from the 186 majority it currently holds.

Mariano Rajoy thanked supporters and party activists for their loyalty, and thanked all voters who had cast their ballots.

"This party continues to be once again, the political force with the most votes in Spain," Rajoy told supporters.

"Whoever wins the elections must try to form a government," said the Spanish prime minister, "I am going to try to form a government and I believe that Spain needs a stable government."

'Spain has voted for the left'

The Socialist Party came in second and was expected to win 91 seats.

Reflecting the fractious nature of the election results, Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the Socialists, said the election marked a shift toward the left of the political spectrum, while also conceding defeat to the conservatives. "The political force with the most votes should try and form a government," Sanchez said. "Spain has voted for the left. Spain wants change but the vote shows the PP as the leading political force."

For many, the real winner was the far-left Podemos party, which has only been around since 2014 but managed to come in third with a projected 69. Rounding out the top four was the centrist Ciudadanos with an expected 40 seats.

'A new era'

Pablo Iglesias, the ponytailed leader of Podemos, declared a major change in Spain's political landscape. "Spain is not going to be the same again, and we're happy. Our fight against corruption goes ahead," Iglesias said.

Though victorious, the conservatives will have a hard time forming a government, since the centrist Ciudadanos didn't win enough seats for the Popular Party to get a majorit by allying with it.

blc/rc (Reuters, AP)

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