Coalition talks as Rajoy's party fails to win majority in Spain
Spain faces weeks of talks to form a coalition government after the ruling conservatives won the country's general election without a clear majority.
Despite garnering the most votes, the centre-right People's Party (PP) had its worst result ever in a general election as Spaniards angered by high-level corruption cases and soaring unemployment turned away from the party in droves.
Undeterred, incumbent prime minister and PP leader Mariano Rajoy told cheering supporters in Madrid that he would strive to form a government.
"Spain needs a government that has the support of parliament," the 60-year-old said.
Both of Spain's traditional parties lost ground to their newer rivals, the anti-austerity Podemos and the centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens), both of which have promised to clean up the endemic corruption of Spanish politics.
Official results showed the PP obtained 123 seats - 63 fewer than in 2011 - with 28.7pc of the votes. The PSOE (Socialists) followed with 90 seats and 22pc of the vote.
Formed less than two years ago and led by pony-tailed politics lecturer Pablo Iglesias, Podemos and its regional allies won 69 seats, with more than 20pc of the vote.
Ciudadanos, running nationwide in a general election for the first time, fell short of expectations generated by opinion polls, picking up 40 seats and 14pc of the vote.
The results mean even if left-wing and right-wing parties group together - the Socialists with Podemos or PP with Ciudadanos - neither would be able to govern with an absolute majority. The showing for Mr Rajoy was a far cry from the 45pc that gave the PP a majority in 2011, making it far from clear on Sunday that he would be able to muster sufficient support to stay in power.
The fact that none of the four main parties have expressed any clear willingness to reach coalition deals will spark concern abroad that Spain is entering a period of political instability, just as the country's economy had started to fire again. After five years of contraction or stagnation, the Spanish economy grew by 1.4pc in 2014, and is expected to grow more than 3pc this year. Unemployment, which almost reached 26pc last year, now stands at 21pc.
Even if the PP does manage to stay in power, it will face complex negotiations in order to govern, as well as demands for reform from all of the other parties. Ciudadanos, for example, wants electoral reform, while
PSOE and Podemos have said they wish to repeal the Rajoy government's labour reform.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)