The political deadlock in Spain has continued after its second general election in six months saw the conservative Partido Popular (PP) winning the most votes but failing to get an overall majority on Sunday (26 June), adding more uncertainty for Europe in its current post-Brexit climate.
Despite predictions of a breakthrough for the Socialist Party (PSOE), it only won 85 seats, behind PP which took 137 of the seats in the 350 seat parliament, 14 more than it did in December 2015. They were followed by Unidos Podemos in third with 71 seats and the centrist Ciudadanos party, coming fourth with 32.
The leader of PP, Mariano Rajoy told his supporters: "We have won the elections, we demand the right to govern", although the results were close to a replica of what happened six months ago.
But with neither the right nor the left holding a majority, there are concerns that the eurozone's fourth biggest economy could become even further fragmented.
There were hopes that Podemos could improve on its good performance last December when it finished first in Catalonia. Exit polls put it in second place, but it came nowhere near overtaking the Socialists, with its running on a joint ticket with the left wing coalition the United Left not getting the expected breakthrough.
Its leader Pablo Iglesias said his party had not done as well as hoped, saying: "There's no doubt that what we have done over the past two years has been historic and unprecedented in the history of our country.
Spanish election results, (Out of 350 seats)
Partido Popular (PP): 137 seats
Socialists (PSOE): 85 seats
Unidos Podemos: 71 seats
Ciudadanos: 32 seats
"But it's also true that we were expecting different results tonight. We're worried to see that the Partido Popular and its conservative allies have increased their support," Iglesias said, according to Reuters.
Socialist Part leader Pedro Sanchez said: "Despite the predictions that persistently declared a strong decline for the party and the loss of our relevance to the collective life of our country, the socialist party has once again reaffirmed its position as the hegemonic party of the left."
Meanwhile, Albert Rivera, the Ciudadanos leader, blamed Spain's electoral system for his party taking eight fewer seats than last time.