That concludes our live coverage of today’s general election in Spain.
Thank you for reading, we’ll be back in the morning with more coverage. In the meantime, here is our report on the result with some background on the campaign.
Acting government spokesperson Isabel Celáa has just announced, with 93.04% of the vote counted: The Socialist Party wins the elections with 6,990,379 votes, 122 deputies.
With 87% of the vote counted, here is how the result is shaping up (176 seats is a majority):
PSOE: 123 deputies
Unidas Podemos: 42
Natalia Junquera reports: “Debacle,” “catastrophe,” “complete disaster.” Those are the comments being made by PP leaders, who are coming to terms with their crushing defeat today at the polls. The moderate sector of the party, which was moved aside by Pablo Casado, feels vindicated. “We have lost the center […[ for not attacking Vox.”
The day is set to be a complete disaster for Pablo Casado, the man who replaced Mariano Rajoy at the head of the Popular Party last year. His conservative group is currently on 65 seats, compared to the 137 it won at the 2016 polls
With 78.05% of the vote counted, the left-wing parties have a total of 165 seats in Congress, and the right-wing bloc 146. A total of 176 seats are needed for an absolute majority in the 350-seat chamber.
Disappointment for PACMA. The animal-rights group is set to miss out on a seat in Congress, with 63% of the votes counted. It would be a massive blow for this party, which was predicted by the polls to be about to enter Spain’s institutions, with a forecast of as many as two deputies.
EL PAÍS political reporter Lucía Abellan on far-right party Vox. “Vox has managed a considerable result, without a doubt. But if the final results do not vary much from these, the massive rise that some were predicting will not come to pass. For now they are around the 10% mark.”
“We have come to support the PP at their most critical moment,” says Iván, 14, and his father, 39, on an empty Génova street outside the Madrid HQ. “We want them to know we are here,” says the younger of the two. The Popular party has dropped to 66 seats (in 2016 it had 137), according to the results so far
Patricia Gosálvez reports.
Desolate scene outside the PP headquarters in Madrid, on Génova street.
Patricia Gosálvez reports. “A while ago they were planning to block the street, but it hasn’t happened so far. There are literally four people here. Paola and Catriel, 17 and 20, a couple, are two of them. They are upset. ‘What a disappointment. Vox and Podemos are more fashionable,’ they say
Pedro Sánchez has arrived at the Socialist Party HQ in Ferraz street with his wife, Begoña Gómez. From there they will be following the results as they come in. Photo: EFE
By contrast, jubilation among the Socialists. They are celebrating the potential rise in seats, but also the gap that is opening up between them and the Popular Party, according to the 30% vote count so far
Total silence in the headquarters of the PP, reports Natalia Junquera. The conservatives will not be making any comment on the – so far bad – results until more of the count is complete.
With 26% of count in, Socialists on for victory, left-wing parties will have a majority in Congress
No one outside the Madrid headquarters of the Popular Party, on Génova street.
Patricia Gosálvez tweets for EL PAÍS: “9.15pm Génova. Not a soul. Bored photographers. ‘Not even one with a flag,’ they say while smoking. Some of them head to the other sidewalk, on their way to Colón, where the Vox supporters are.”
EL PAÍS political reporter Inés Santaeulalia: “Nosedive for the PP. With 11.98% of the votes counted, the PP would have 64 deputies compared to the 134 it won in 2016. Ahead of more results coming in, everything is pointing to the worst result in the history of the party.”
“Thanks to the public workers and a big hug for the party activists and electoral officials.” Those are, up until now, the only words from Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on this election night. The candidate for Unidas Podemos sent the message from his car, on the way to Madrid’s Goya Theater to join the rest of his party. “The best campaign of our history,” was how he summed up the run-up to today’s polls.
Polling stations have now closed in the Canary Islands, which is one hour behind mainland Spain.
Ciudadanos candidate Inés Arrimadas arrives at the national headquarters of her party
At 9pm we will receive the first real polling data from today’s general election.
Representatives of Unidas Podemos – the coalition of the United Left and anti-austerity group Podemos – offer their thanks to voters for the high turnout, which they consider to be a good sign for them in today’s general election.
“Thanks to all the people who have decided to write the history of this April 28.”
EL PAÍS political reporter Javier Casqueiro: “The GAD-3 poll for TVE points to the possibility of the worst result ever for the Popular Party, with between 69 and 73 seats for Pablo Casado’s group. That would be below the worst ever result, at the 1989 general elections, when the PP picked up 101 deputies in Congress.”
There will be no official data on today’s general election published until 9pm Spanish time, which is when the polls close on the Canary Islands, which are an hour behind Spain.
The mood among Vox supporters in Madrid's Plaza Margaret Thatcher has cooled, reports Antonio Ruiz Valdivia from El Huffington Post. He reports that on seeing the opinion poll, a mother just said to her son “The bad guys are winning.”
Vox supporters are in Madrid’s Plaza Margaret Thatcher, where the party has set up big screens to watch the results come in. The broadcast was interrupted just before TVE revealed its polling data, which predicts 36-38 seats for the emerging right-wing group. Faces of disappointment abound once the feed comes back on and the news is digested
Here is a graphic of the GAD-3 opinion poll for state broadcaster TVE. The line in the middle represents an absolute majority in Congress. The left-wing Socialist Party and Podemos would fall short, but so would a combination of the right-wing PP, Ciudadanos and Vox
These pro-independence parties failed to support Pedro Sánchez’s 2019 budget plan earlier this year, which is what prompted the prime minister to call today’s general election. Sánchez’s attempts to hold talks with the pro-independence forces has also been a key weapon used against him by the opposition.
To sum up, according to the GAD-3 survey for state broadcaster TVE, the Socialist Party is set to win the elections but will need the support of Unidas Podemos (the coalition of the United Left and anti-austerity party Podemos), and the Catalan independence parties to form a government. (continues...)
EL PAÍS political reporter Javier Casqueiro: “The result predicted by GAD-3 for RTVE would be a big failure for the Popular Party, because it would even be below the worst predictions. Pablo Casado wanted to get the PP as close as possible to 100 seats to stop the drop in support after the motion of no-confidence that buried former Prime Minister Mariano Rjaoy.”
EL PAÍS political reporter Anabel Díez analyzes the GAD-3 poll for TVE: “The Socialist Party goes from 84 seats in Congress to 116-121 deputies, according to the poll. This would be their first election win since 2008. The heartaches of 2015 and, even more bitter, 2016 – it went from 90 to 84 – have turned into jubilation. It has won the election.”
Here is the prediction from the GAD-3 opinion poll for state broadcaster TVE. Remember, 176 seats is a majority in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies:
Socialist Party (PSOE): 116-121
Popular Party (PP): 69-73
Ciudadanos (Citizens): 48-49
Catalan Republican Left (ERC): 13-14
Other parties: 18
BREAKING | According to the GAD-3 survey for state broadcaster TVE, the Socialist Party (PSOE) will win the most seats but fall short of a majority. Pedro Sánchez would be able to form a government with the support of Podemos and pro-independence parties.
Analysis from EL PAÍS data specialists Kiko Llaneras, Daniele Grasso and Borja Andrino shows that voter turnout has risen in areas where support for the Spanish right was strongest at the 2016 general election. “This could represent greater voter mobilization, but it should be treated with caution because forecasts based on participation are not very trustworthy and could be down to different causes.”
EL PAÍS political reporter Javier Casqueiro: “Will the role of the Catalan Republican Left [ERC] be crucial? Given the high voter turnout in Catalonia, with more than a million more Catalan voters than at the last general election, it seems that the role of ERC will be even more important in future negotiations to form a government if the PSOE and Unidas Podemos don’t have enough seats with just the support of the PNV [Basque Nationalist Party] and Compromís.
Rivera has responded with a tweet aimed at Torra: “You stage a coup d’état, you call all of us Spaniards ‘moronic beasts’ and now you are calling for the Electoral Board to punish me for saying that a sectarian who is unable to even greet a candidate who politely held out her hand is a sectarian. This is the world turned on its head.”
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera and Catalan regional premier Quim Torra are embroiled in a spat over the incident. Speaking in a radio interview, Torra has called for the Electoral Board to investigate Rivera for calling the official in question a “separatist sectarian.” (continues...)
More fallout from an incident earlier today when an electoral official refused to shake the hand of Inés Arrimadas, candidate in Barcelona for center-right party Ciudadanos (Citizens), which opposes Catalan independence. (continues...)
Just under half an hour to go until the polls close at today’s general election in Spain. Results will start to come in from 9pm onward.
One of the editors of EL PAÍS’ National section, Claudi Pérez, warns against reading too much in to the high voter turnout at today’s election at this stage. “The left is focusing on the fact that in other elections where the figure was high the PSOE [Socialist Party] won. The right is saying that when this happens, there is usually a change in government. But this time there are 5 parties. That changes everything.”
This map shows the increase in voter turnout as at 6pm between today's general election and the 2016 poll, broken down by region. The graph shows percentage and the percentage point rise (substitute the comma for a decimal point).
This graph illustrates the rise in voter turnout as of 6pm today, compared to the last general election in June 2016, broken down by province. Turnout at 6pm was at 60.76%, which is 9.5% up on the 2016 figure.
As at 6pm, voter turnout has risen by the following percentage points compared to the 2016 general election in the following regions: Asturias, 6 points. Cantabria, 7.5 points. Basque Country, 9 points. Navarre, 9 points. Catalonia, 18 points. Castilla y León, 9 points. La Rioja, 6 points. Madrid, 11 points. Valencia, five points. Balearics, 7 points. Extremadura, 9 points. Castilla La Mancha, 10 points. Murica, 9 points. Canaries, 6 points.
“I once voted for the Communist Party, but it was phoney-baloney. Now I’m with Vox.” EL PAÍS journalist Juan Diego Quesada speaks with Spaniards of all ages and political stripes about their decision-making process in the general election.
EL PAÍS political reporter Lucía Abellán: “The rise in voter turnout is very significant, especially in Catalonia. To properly evaluate the data, we must remember that at the last general election, in 2016, the region was below the average in terms of turnout (66% compared to an average of 70%). It will be interesting to analyze later on who benefits from this increase in votes.”
EL PAÍS political reporter Javier Casqueiro (continued): “From Podemos they are warning me of the theory that the right-wing parties have mobilized even the most radical voters, while the Socialists want to believe the advance data and internal polling, which suggest the possibility of different government alliances. A lot of speculation still.”
EL PAÍS political reporter Javier Casqueiro: “Voter turnout data is interpreted on a partisan basis at this point on election day. Sources from the PP leadership say that more people are going to vote at polling stations where they usually receive support although they are watching the progress of Vox with apprehension...
EL PAÍS political reporter Anabel Díez: “Speculations about the meaning of the voter turnout are on the rise. Never-before-seen percentages in many provinces and regions are making each party think it could benefit. In Catalonia, turnout has risen in areas that are clearly pro-independence but supporters of the unity of Spain believe that this could work in their favor. Fears and celebrations alike are arriving, but it’s best not to repeat them given that citizens are still voting.”
BREAKING | Voter turnout at 6pm in Catalonia is 64.20%, 17.82% up on the 2016 general election, with 99.32% of polling stations accounted for, equivalent to 99.40% of the electorate
BREAKING | Voter turnout at 6pm is 60.75%, 9.54% up on the 2016 general election. That’s based on 98.95% of polling stations, equivalent to 99.04% of the electorate.
Voter turnout in Catalonia has risen in particular in inland areas that are the strongest supporters of independence for the northeastern Spanish region, reports EL PAÍS journalist Alfonso Congostrina. Cities such as Berga (a 17.6 percentage point rise on the 2016 general election), Vic (19.8) and Olot (21.18) have seen the biggest increases in voters casting their ballots.
BREAKING | Voter turnout in Catalonia is up 17.79 percentage points compared to the last general election, held in 2016. That’s based on 95.40% of polling stations, equivalent to 95.68 of the electorate
BREAKING | Voter turnout at 6pm is up 9.49% compared to the 2016 general elections, with 94.7% of polling stations accounted for, equivalent to 94.98% of the electorate
BREAKING | Voter turnout at 6pm is up almost nine percentage points compared to the 2016 general election. That’s based on 59.4% of the polling stations, the equivalent of 59.47% of the electorate
A man has died of natural causes at a polling station in San Sebastián, in Spain’s northern Basque Country region. According to the Basque regional government, the man, who was disabled, suffered some kind of attack at the Basque Country University polling station, where he had gone to vote, and passed away at 2.45pm.
Some drone footage tweeted out by the National Police, who say they have more than 92,000 officers on duty today to ensure that the elections take place without incident. “Even though you can’t see us, we are also up in the air. Every perspective when it comes to your safety.”
The Popular Party has sent out a tweet with the video of the incident suffered by its candidate in Barcelona, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, when she went to vote today in Montcada i Reixac. “Due to things like this, with each minute that passes, we more urgently need #MorePPMoreSpain. This is intolerable. They will not defeat us. All our support for Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo”
Several people tried to stop the candidate from voting and also confronted her when she left the polling station
Voters in Spain’s eastern Valencia region are also voting in regional elections today. At 2pm, 45.66% of voters had cast their ballot, five percentage points up on the same figure at the 2015 polls.
At the last elections, the Valencian Popular Party won most seats, but fell short of a majority. Leftist parties, headed up by the Valencian Socialists, combined forces to form a government led by the latter party’s Ximo Puig.
Outside the doors of the Safa school in Seville, Antonio Varas reflects on today’s polls. “These elections are special,” he says, opting not to reveal who he has voted for inside the polling station. “There will be a change in the vote to try to change the system. People want to be free from manipulation and from parties being above people.” Reporting by Javier Martín Arroyo.
Podemos politician Pablo Echenique casts his vote at today’s Spanish elections. “There are just over three hours left to vote. I encourage everyone who hasn’t voted already to do so. It’s a beautiful day to democratically decide on the future of our country. Remember that TODAY your vote is worth the same as that of any multimillionaire. Use it.”
This graph illustrates the rise in voter turnout as at 2pm today, compared to the last general election in June 2016.
The green spots represent the percentage-point rise (the comma represents a decimal point).
Turnout at 2pm was at 41.49%, which is 4.6% up on the 2016 figure. That's the highest provisional figure since 1993, and the second-highest since Spain returned to democracy
In photos: Check out this gallery of images as voters cast their ballots today in the #SpanishElections
A young man votes in Valencia, where voters are also choosing regional representatives today. Spaniards will return to the polls on May 26 for local and European elections.
A map showing high political engagement across Spain. At 2pm the turnout figure was 41.49%, 4.6 points higher than at the 2016 general election. This is the highest preliminary figure for nationwide turnout since 1993, and the second highest in Spain’s democratic history.
Daniel Ruestes, an 18-year-old from Málaga, is voting for the first time. “I couldn’t wait. I wanted to cast my ballot because of the situation I am seeing, and because I want my vote to count for something, to help change things for the better, because if Vox wins, I don’t think that’s going to be good for the country. And I don’t mind saying who I voted for: Unidas Podemos. They don’t share all of my own ideas, but they’re the ones who come the closest.”
The Ciudadanos candidate for Barcelona, Inés Arrimadas, was involved in an incident when she went to vote. One of the officials overseeing the polling station refused to shake her hand as she cast her ballot. In this tweet from Ciudadanos candidate for Valencia, Toni Cantó, you can see what happened
In the Balearic Islands, turnout at 2pm was up 3.5 percentage points compared to the 2016 polls. 38.10% of voters had cast their ballot, compared to 34.48% at the same time during the last general election
Voters wait in line to cast their ballot in Santa Marta de Hospitalet de Llobregat, Catalonia. Photo by Albert Garcia
In the Basque Country, voter turnout at 2pm was up more than 5.5 percentage points. 41.75% of voters had cast their ballots, compared to 36.05% in 2016 at the same time
In Asturias, the turnout at 2pm was up nearly 5.5 percentage points. 40.15% of voters had cast their ballot, compared to 34.70% in 2016
Turnout at 2pm was up 2.5 percentage points in the Valencia region. 45.87% of voters had cast their ballot, compared to 43.34% at the same time in 2016
The Madrid region has seen 2pm turnout rise more than 4.5 percentage points. 43.61% of voters have cast their ballots compared to 39.01% at the 2016 polls.
In Castilla y León, turnout at 2pm was up more than 4.5 percentage points. 41.80% of voters have cast their ballots, compared to 37.18% in 2016
In Castilla-La Mancha, turnout at 2pm was up nearly four points. 42.71% of voters have cast their ballots, compared to 38.92% in 2016
In Cantabria, turnout at 2pm is up nearly four points compared to 2016. 43.12% of voters have cast their ballot, compared to 39.22% three years ago
EL PAÍS stats whizz Kiko Llaneras analyzes the 2pm voter turnout figures. “This is an indication of high final turnout, but it’s relative. Sometimes turnout normalizes in the afternoon. At the June 1993 elections, although the record was beaten at midday, they ended up being just the fifth most-attended. The June 1986 polls, which saw the third-highest 2pm turnout, were the fourth-least attended of all 12 general elections in Spain. The good weather may be prompting people to vote early.”
The region of Aragón at 2pm saw turnout up nearly seven points on 2016. 44.65% of voters had cast their ballot, compared to 37.88% at the same time in 2016.
This graph illustrates voter turnout at 2pm at today's elections and the previous two national polls.
How could this potential increased turnout affect the results?
In Spain’s northwestern Galicia region, turnout at 2pm was up nearly three points on 2016. At midday 36.97% of voters had cast their ballot, compared to 34.07% at the last elections.
Voter turnout in Andalusia, Spain’s biggest region, is at 38.93% at 2pm, 1.33% higher than at the June 2016 polls. The figure is also nine points up on turnout at the same time at the December regional elections.
One of the Popular Party’s leading candidates at these elections, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, claims that members of the public tried to stop her from entering a polling station in Montcada i Reixac, Catalonia. “On the way out, this happened,” reads her tweet below. The man in the video is asking her if she was beaten for voting, in reference to the police violence seen at the 2017 illegal referendum on independence in Catalonia.
Voter turnout in Catalonia as at 2pm is 43.5%, which is 11.21 percentage points up on the same figure for the 2016 elections. It’s also a record figure for the region, where turnout has risen in particular in pro-independence municipalities.
Pro-independence leaders are currently on trial in the Supreme Court for their role in the 2017 independence drive, and could face long prison sentences.
There are very few Vox ballot papers left in the wealthiest neighborhood of Valencia. “They’re going to have to bring in more very soon,” notes Amparo, a resident of Pla del Remei, a traditional PP stronghold where annual per capita income is €50,393. Inside the polling station, a party representative has the same impression: “If you observe for five minutes, you see it. People who esthetically look like PP voters, such as well-dressed ladies, are mostly picking up Vox papers today.” Reporting and photograph by Ignacio Zafra
BREAKING: Here’s the first data on voter participation in today’s general election in Spain.
At 2pm, turnout is at 41.34%, which is 4.5 points up on the same figure at the last general election, held in 2016. The figure is drawn from 89.94% of polling stations, which account for 89.74% of voters
The main candidates have tweeted messages and pictures of themselves at the polling stations. Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) says: “Let’s make this a voting day with open doors to the future of our country. Let’s participate, let’s send out a clear message about the kind of Spain that we want.”
Madrid Mayor Manuela Carmena did not reveal who she has voted for. "You can take a guess," she said.
ICYMI: Here is the EL PAÍS interview with Pedro Sánchez we published on Friday.
“When Rajoy was prime minister, Vox was already on the radar of the right”
“When the left doesn’t mobilize, the right wins.” That was the stark warning today from Susana Díaz, the former regional premier of Andalusia. The Socialist Party politician took the most votes at last year’s elections in Spain’s biggest region, but fell short of a majority. The PP managed to form a government with the support of Ciudadanos and far-right group Vox, which performed surprisingly well in the December polls.
Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister and candidate for mayor of Barcelona, was emotional today when he voted for the first time in Spain. Until now he had always cast his vote in France. Valls cast his vote in the L’Eixample neighborhood at around 10.30 this morning.
Casado continued: “I believe it is fundamental for all Spaniards to take part, because what happens today at the polls will condition the future of Spain for the next four years, until 2023. The first thing I would like to see is a stable government to emerge from the polls in order to avoid this succession of failed legislatures that we have seen in the last two years.”
Spain saw inconclusive elections in 2015 and 2016, and Pedro Sánchez has only been able to govern since June thanks to the support of other parties in Congress.
Casado, who has shifted his party to the right in response to the rise of Vox, had this to say to reporters.
“First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to Spaniards and the media for the attention, as well as the patience, during these nearly nine months of pre-campaign and campaign.”
Casado’s party was ousted from power in June of last year, when Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) filed a successful motion of no-confidence against then-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (continues…)
In case you missed it, here is the last episode of season 1 of our podcast, ¿Qué?
In it, me and my colleague Melissa Kitson discuss today's elections and venture to predict what might happen. We'll be back with a new episode this week in which we break down the results and what they mean for the future of Spain
The leader of Vox in Andalusia, Francisco Serrano, casts his vote in Seville. “We will respect the result of the elections because we believe in democracy,” he tells reporters. “Spaniards have to decide who is going to lead us, so that Spain gets back on a course that will steer us to a good port. I call on people to vote in freedom, without fear and with a sense of responsibility.”
Reporting: Javier Martín-Arroyo. Photo: Alejandro Ruesga.
Abascal continues: “Millions of Spaniards are going to vote with hope, they are going to vote without fearing anything of anyone, and the most important thing is that from 8pm, when the votes are counted, that all the political parties respect the result, we defend democracy, we defend the nation and coexistence between Spaniards.”
In this tweet from news channel 24h, the leader of the far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal, casts his vote. “I believe that we are going to see an election today that will prove to be historic for Spain.”
All eyes are on the emerging group, which garnered surprise support at last year’s regional elections in Andalusia, and is expected to win a significant part of the vote today
Catalan regional premier Quim Torra also calls on voters to turn out en masse. The pro-separatist politician told reporters that today is a “very important day for the future of Catalonia.” He voted this morning in Barcelona, along with his wife and daughter. (EFE)
Photo: Generalitat de Catalunya
Rivera continues: “Tonight a new political stage will begin, in which we will bury 40 years of our two-party system and nationalists influencing public life, and we will open an era of a diverse, plural and united Spain. I hope that today hope triumph over fear.0”
Rivera tells reporters he wants to see “a new era,” Elsa G. de Blas reports. “These aren’t just any elections. At stake is whether we want to be free and equal citizens, if we want a Spain that looks to the past or to the future, a Spain of extremes or one that is centered. I call on Spaniards to get out and vote today. We need a change of cycle, of government and of era. A change in which all those who want to break up our country do not influence it.”
After voting Iglesias told reporters he hoped the participation “would be very high.”
“Today is a beautiful and special day, voting in a public school, where we want our children to study. It’s a beautiful day to remember how important public education is. I want to congratulate and give thanks to all the public workers who are making it possible for this election day to happen peacefully. I hope the participation is very high. From now on we just have to wait.”
Speaking after he cast his vote, Sánchez called for a "solid majority." "Good morning, sorry for having made you get up early," he said. "I wanted to convey my wish that Spaniards have the most peaceful election day possible. And above all that Spaniards participate with a very solid majority and send a clear message about what it is we want for the next four years. Four years of calm and stability."
Today’s general election in Spain has begun without incidents, according to the sub-secretary of the Interior Ministry, Isabel Goicoechea. At 2.30pm we can expect information on voter turnout, based on data as at 2pm.
Welcome to today's live blog, where will be posting updates throughout the day and into the night about Spain's 2019 general election