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Voting closes in Spain, with polls suggesting a nail-biter result

Anadolu Agency EUROPE
Published July 23,2023
Citizens cast their votes for the general election at a polling station in Madrid, Spain on July 23, 2023. (AA photo)

Under the scorching summer sun, Spain's voters have finished casting their ballots on Sunday to determine the country's next national government.

With polls closed, the counting has begun. The final results should be clear around midnight Spain time (2200GMT).

While Spain no longer conducts exit polls, fresh survey data was released when voting concluded Sunday evening.

In line with previous expectations, both of the fresh surveys suggest the conservative Popular Party will emerge as the most-voted party.

The GAD3 poll also suggests that along with the far-right party Vox, the right-wing bloc will have enough seats to earn a majority. But the other main poll published by Sigma Dos for Spain's public broadcaster shows that the left wing-bloc still has a chance to hold onto power for another term.

Spain is currently led by a left-wing coalition government, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at the helm.

After getting clobbered by a right-wing wave in local elections in May, it has been widely predicted that Sanchez will see power slip away. But upon casting his ballot in Madrid on Sunday, he told reporters he had "good vibrations" and called on Spaniards to cast ballots because it is a "very important moment for our country and our democracy."

If conservative forces oust Sanchez, it will likely involve the presence of the far-right party Vox in the Spanish government. Although Vox spun off the Popular Party, an openly far-right party has not been in Spain's central government since shortly after the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

As of 6 p.m. Spain time (1600GMT), voter turnout was 53.12% — almost four percentage points below the level during the last national elections in 2019. However, that does not count the almost 2.5 million mail-in ballots, which reached a record level as many Spaniards are enjoying their summer holidays this weekend and unable to vote in person.

How the summer holidays affect the end result remains to be seen. The lowest drop-off in the participation rate occurred in Catalonia — where turnout two hours before the polls closed was nine percentage points below the 2019 level.