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PP wins Spain's general election but falls short of majority

Spain’s ruling Partido Popular won a general election Sunday but fell well short of the absolute majority needed to govern alone, with PSOE coming in second and upstart parties Podemos and Ciudadanos scoring big gains.

The result has fragmented the political landscape in Spain and set the stage for weeks of complicated coalition-building talks with no easy outcome in sight.

Spaniards angry with 21% unemployment and high-profile corruption cases delivered a result that marked a clear shift away from the country's traditional two-party political system.

Spain has been dominated for more than three decades by the ruling PP and the main opposition Socialists, which have alternated running the government.

But on Sunday two new parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos, won a hefty share of the votes and ushered in a new and potentially volatile era of compromise politics.

Spain election parliament spread

Spain election results. Source Interior Ministry.

Nearly 8.8m voted in the election, a turnout of 72.2% that was up from 68.9% in 2011.

With 98% of the vote counted, Mariano Rajoy’s ruling PP looked had won 122 seats in the Spanish parliament with 29% of the vote, well short of the 176-seat majority needed to govern the country alone.

The PSOE had secured seats for 91 MPs on 22% of the vote, while Podemos, which has only been in existence for two years, had secured 13% of the vote and 42 seats in the Parliament.

Ciudadanos had also put in a decent showing with 14% of the vote and 40 MPs.

Spain MPs 2015 elections

Spain 2015 election results. MPs and votes per party. Source Interior Ministry.

"Today is an historic day for Spain... We are starting a new political era in our country," Sr Iglesias said.

The result points to a stalemate, potentially disrupting an economic reform programme that has helped pull Spain - the fifth-largest economy in the European Union - out of recession and dented a still sky-high unemployment rate.

"This result confirms Spain has entered an era of political fragmentation," Teneo Intelligence analyst Antonio Barroso told Reuters.

"It's clear that parties will have to negotiate and forming a government could be pretty complicated.”

At least three parties would have to join to form a coalition government on either side of the political spectrum and none of the main combinations predicted before the vote would reach an absolute majority.

A pact between the PP and Ciudadanos would fall below the 176 mark of the absolute majority needed.

Likewise an alliance between the Socialists, Podemos and the former communists of Izquierda Unida would still fall short, although they could potentially attract a further 15 seats from smaller leftist regional groups.

A minority PP government would be technically possible but unlikely due to the strong left-wing vote, as would be a grand coalition between the PP and the Socialists, which both parties vehemently ruled out during campaigning.

Days or weeks of negotiations may be needed to determine the outcome - which will be unprecedented because the Socialists and the Popular Party have previously only needed support from tiny Spanish parties to get a majority in parliament when they did not win one from voters.

CAMPO TRENDS

In La Linea, San Roque and Los Barrios, the PSOE was the most voted party followed by the PP, Podemos and Ciudadanos.

In Algeciras, the PP was ahead followed by PSOE, Podemos and Ciudadanos.

Turnout in all four cities was well below the national average, particularly in La Linea where 55% of eligible voters turned out to cast their ballot.