Spain's Center Citizens Party Rules Out Coalition Deal With Socialists

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Analysts say Sanchez is more likely to look to his right for parliamentary support, as the far left Podemos party no longer seems a viable partner after losing half its seats.

But in order to advance, the Socialists will have to work with smaller parties to reach the 176 seats required to form a coalition government.

"The Socialists have won the general election", Sanchez declared, smiling broadly as he addressed jubilant supporters at party headquarters in Madrid.

Spanish police officers hold an activist from the women's rights organization Femen, with the text, "It is not patriotism but fascism" on her chest, protesting at a campaign rally for the Spanish far-right party VOX in Madrid, on April 26, 2019. He suggested Pedro Sanchez's socialists (PSOE) managed to succeed by using the "fear of fascism" to win the most seats in the Madrid's lower house.

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The most significant new development is the emergence of far-right party Vox in a country that has had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

The fight between far-right nationalists Vox, the centre-right People's Party and the Liberal Ciudadanos diluted the conservative vote during yesterday's Spanish election, the professor from the University of Malaga added. In 2015, a splintered parliamentary outcome from a general election led to inconclusive negotiations and a repeat election the following year.

Sanchez might instead try to cut a deal with Ciudadanos.

Nacho Torreblanca, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations in Madrid, said: "Sanchez can choose from two coalitions". The governing Socialist party took 123 seats, gaining 37 seats on the previous election in 2016, offering Mr Sanchez a number of options to assemble a coalition government.

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It was unclear in the early hours of Monday if he would also require the support of separatist lawmakers from Catalonia, the country's richest region where a push for independence flared into violence two years ago.

Founded by Abascal, a former member of the conservative Popular Party (PP), with a strong stance against feminism and illegal immigration, Vox has risen thanks to its hard line against separatists in Catalonia.

Voting started at 9am on Sunday and ends at 8pm in mainland Spain for what will be the country's third national election in four years, each of which has brought a further dislocation of the political landscape. "The three-way division of the right clearly hurt PP, with many of its votes going to Vox".

Though he and Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera have sharply different views on Catalonia and both ruled out forming an alliance during the campaign, speculation persists that the pair could yet strike a coalition deal.

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Right-wing parties for their part lambasted Sanchez, at the head of a minority government, for talking with separatists who still govern the region, accusing him of cosying up to those who tried to break up Spain.

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