What’s likely to happen next?
In 2016, Spain suffered nearly a year of political limbo after two inconclusive elections, which left four parties haggling over who should govern. Sunday’s vote may produce a similar outcome, opening up a new chapter of political uncertainty and fragility. A repeat election may be necessary to break the deadlock.
The main parties, however, have broadly split into two blocs during the election campaign, providing some guidance to what kind of governing coalition could emerge.
Mr. Casado, the leader of the Popular Party, has portrayed Ciudadanos as his ideal junior coalition partner, and possibly hopes to gain the support of Vox. On the other hand, Unidas Podemos, the far-left party, has pledged to support Mr. Sánchez and his Socialist Party.
The front-running Catalan separatist party, Esquerra Republicana, has also committed to Mr. Sánchez, although the Socialists may hope to keep clear of another uncomfortable Catalan alliance.
Depending on the vote split, the biggest unknown is the postelection stance of Ciudadanos, which won its first seats in 2015 as a centrist party and came close to forming a coalition government with Mr. Sánchez and his Socialists. Since June, the leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, has been among the most outspoken critics of Mr. Sánchez and has tilted his party further toward the right, notably after the regional election in Andalusia.
Mr. Sanchez could still try to revive negotiations with Mr. Rivera, however, if Sunday leaves the Socialist Party as a clear winner but short of a majority.
In all likelihood, negotiations to form a national coalition government will overshadow campaigning for Spain’s next set of elections, on May 26, when voters will choose municipal and regional governments and members of the European Parliament.
News credit : Nytimes