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Opinion polls point to stalemate in Spain's Nov.10 election

By Elena Rodriguez and Ingrid Melander

Spain is heading for more political paralysis after parliamentary elections on Nov. 10, opinion polls suggest, with no party or bloc seen getting a majority as the ruling Socialists' lead shrinks and the right's support rises.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez called the election last month, banking it would strengthen his hand after he failed to gather enough backing to govern following a snap vote in April.

But his party is due to lose seats in November amid unrest in Catalonia, voter fatigue and slowing economic growth, a GAD3 poll for ABC newspaper and a Sigma Dos poll for El Mundo showed on Monday, confirming a trend in other recent surveys.

Support for right-wing parties overall overtook the left for the first time in months in a series of polls, GAD3 chief Narciso Michavila said, with particular boosts for the conservative Partido Popular (PP) and far-right Vox.

"The situation in Catalonia has mobilised right-wing voters," he added, referring to anger about pro-independence street riots in the regional capital Barcelona following the jailing of nine separatist leaders.

Mr Sanchez's Socialists would remain the biggest single party, even after the expected loss of five seats, bringing its total to 118. But even with the support of far-left Podemos, that would still leave them short of the 176 needed for a majority.

The Nov. 10 parliamentary election will be Spain's fourth in four years. Those ballots have produced a succession of minority or short-lived governments, as leaders struggle to adapt to the arrival of new parties and the end of a decades-old dominance by PP and the Socialists.

"We're headed to an even stronger blockage than in the April 28 election," said Pablo Simon, a political science professor at the Carlos III university.

Party leaders have said they will not hold yet another election immediately after the Nov. 10 one, but Mr Simon said that could not be entirely ruled out as parties struggle to forge alliances.

Options include PP this time agreeing to abstain in an investiture vote in parliament to allow Mr Sanchez to be appointed prime minister. The left could also strike a deal with the backing of regional parties - something it failed to do in April.

But all scenarios are fraught with difficulties. The growing competition from the far-right could make PP more reluctant to accommodate the Socialists and allow Mr Sanchez to become prime minister. The Socialists' stronger line on Catalonia could also put off potential partners among the regional parties.

PP would get 34 more seats to reach 100 while Vox, which won its first 17 seats in the April election, would jump to 41, making it the third-biggest party. Market-friendly Ciudadanos would sink to 17 seats.

El Mundo's tracking poll showed similar trends.

Further complicating the picture is the fact that two left-wing parties - one a splinter from Podemos and the other an anti-capitalist, separatist Catalan party - are seen winning their first seats.

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