Madrid (Spain), Nov 10 : Spaniards have returned to the polls on Sunday for a fourth general election in as many years amid heightened tensions over Catalonia’s separatist push, an issue that has fuelled a surge in support for upstart far-right party Vox.
The election were called by acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who won most votes in April’s general election but failed to form a government. Spain has been struggling to form a stable government since 2015.
Sanchez, who led the country for around a year, was forced to call for fresh elections in April after his budget proposals were rejected in February.
Voting is taking place between 9 am and 8 pm (local time), with first results due out an hour after the end of polling.
The major parties in the electoral race are the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), the conservative People’s Party (PP), left-wing populist Podemos, centrist-populist Ciudadanos (or Citizens) and far-right Vox party.
Opinion polls however suggest this new election will fail to break the deadlock. Neither the left nor the right look likely to win a ruling majority in Spain’s 350-seat parliament.
The Socialists look set to finish top again, but with slightly fewer seats than the 123 they picked up in April. But the far-right Vox party is likely to gain in this election as is predicted to become the third-largest in parliament, according to recent polling.
In October, mass protests erupted in Barcelona and other Catalan cities after the Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to 9-13 years in prison on sedition charges and other three to fines over their role in a failed 2017 independence referendum, sparking street protests in Barcelona and other Catalan cities in which more than 600 people wer injured.