The incumbent Popular Party earned 28.5% of the vote, giving it between 117 and 121 seats in the congress of deputies, Spain’s Parliament, according to the poll by Sigma Dos for broadcaster Radiotelevision Espanola.
That meant the party which has governed for the past four years fell short of a majority of 176 needed in the 350-seat parliament and will need to negotiate agreements with rival parties if it wants to return to power.
Complicating those negotiations, the poll indicated that a new radical leftist alliance called Unidos Podemos (United We Can) came second with 25.6% of the vote, winning between 91 and 95 seats.
The radical left’s surge in support was another alarm bell for European mainstream political parties after voters in the United Kingdom last week opted to leave the European Union.
Such an outcome in the election would not only push Spain’s centre-left Socialists into third place for the first time in a national election, but would mean that a coalition of left-of-centre parties — though they lost to the Popular Party — could possibly rule with a majority.
The moderate Socialists got 22%, winning between 81 and 85 seats, the poll said.
The election yesterday aimed to break six months of political deadlock after an inconclusive December ballot left Spain without an elected government.
The Popular Party also won that election, with 28.7% of the vote, with the Socialists in second.