The leaders of the PP, Podemos, C's and PSOE - Mariano Rajoy, Pablo Iglesias, Albert Rivera and Pedro Sánchez - casting their votes today.

26-06-2016Agencies

The Partido Popular, which has formed the acting government in Spain since the last general election in December, has increased its number of seats in Congress after today's second election in six months. The PP (as of 11.45pm with almost all the count finished) has gained 14 seats to take it to 137, still well short of the majority of 176.

PSOE, which polls had predicted would slip to third, has held on to second but with five fewer seats (85). Podemos, in alliance now with the United Left, had been forecast to overtake PSOE, but in the end it (together with its affiliate groupings) has added only two seats - effectively the two the United Left had at the December election - in registering 71 in total.

Ciudadanos (C's) have seen their seats cut from 40 to 32.

In the Balearics, where the forecasts were also suggesting that PSOE would slip to third, have been proved wrong. PSOE has kept its two seats in Congress, with the PP maintaining its three, while Podemos, in alliance with the United Left and the left-wing nationalists, Més, have not increased their two seats from the December election. The C's remain on one seat.

It has not, therefore, been as good an election as the radical left had hoped, either nationally or in the Balearics. As to the formation of a new government, things are more or less as they were, but PSOE and the C's, who had formed a pact after the December election but failed to receive support to allow the PSOE general secretary, Pedro Sánchez, to become prime minister, now find themselves weaker than they had been.

What might now happen? PSOE and the C's might look to Podemos to allow Sánchez to become prime minister. Had Podemos polled second, any accord with Podemos would have been out of the question, as it would have meant PSOE having to accept Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, as prime minister. Another possibility is that the PP and PSOE form a grand coalition, with Mariano Rajoy possibly stepping down as prime minister. Or there may have to be another election, the prospect of which has some constitutional complications.

In the Balearics, President Armengol of PSOE will feel she has kept a grip on the pact with Més and Podemos that would have been undermined had PSOE come third, but this pact may yet be placed under strain if PSOE nationally were to opt for an arrangement with the PP.

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