Virginia Salmeron Ciudadanos Spain vote
Ciudadanos parliamentary hopeful Virginia Salmeron failed to explain why people should vote for her during a TV interview YouTube

A Spanish parliamentary hopeful with an upstart party that is shaking up Spain's elections has become an unwilling internet sensation for failing to explain why people should vote for her in a TV interview. Virginia Salmeron, the leading candidate for the business-friendly Ciudadanos party in Sevilla, was asked to make a 20-second pitch for her bid to win a seat in the lower chamber by a journalist with broadcaster Canal Sur.

She started by saying how centrist parties, in particular under the leadership of Spain's first democratically elected Prime Minister, Adolfo Suárez, helped bring about change in the southern European country. "We have a great opportunity now on 20 December for the centre to make a comeback and change Spain," she said.

She then added that her own centrist party, Ciudadanos, led by firebrand politician Albert Rivera, had the right ideas to solve Spaniards' problems, but failed to detail what these were. "Well, we hope that with this opportunity we can change Spain and… I don't know how to explain it," she concluded.

Salmeron's soft arguments drew mockery on social media, with the related video being watched thousands of times. Ciudadanos was expected to be land the role of kingmaker in the vote as polls suggested no party would win an outright majority.

Before ballots opened at 9am (8am GMT) on 20 December local time surveys gave Rivera's party at around 15%, behind the Socialists (20%) the populist far-left Podemos (22%) and the ruling Popular Party (27%). The first exit polls are expected minutes voting closes at 8pm (7pm GMT), while the complete results are due on 22 December.

If they were to confirm expectations the vote will see the end of decades of two-party rule, as the Spanish political scene has long been dominated only the Socialists and the Popular Party.

At 2pm (1pm GMT) turnout was quite low, with only 37% of the country's 36.5 million registered voters who had cast their ballot. This was one point lower than at the same time at the last elections in 2011, according to authorities.