Polls closed at 8 p.m. local time in the general elections in Spain Sunday, with similar results expected as December's general election. Unidos Podemos will mark another blow to the nation's traditional two-party system.
With 90 percent of the vote counted, the right-wing PP has 137 seats, PSOE 85, Unidos Podemos 71 and Ciudadanos 32.
Voter abstention was 30.2 percent, the lowest to be registered for a general election since Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s, according to El Pais. In December voter abstention was 26.8 percent.
"These are not the results we expected," said Iñigo Errejon of Podemos in a press conference on Sunday. "They are not good for the party, they are not good for the country. Political change is never lineal."
The last election in December broke the mould of 30 years of stable conservative or socialist majorities and failed to produce a viable government as upstart parties channeled growing resentment of the establishment following an economic crisis and a raft of corruption scandals.
Born in 2014 out of the fervent protests against spending cuts that swept Spain during a recent recession, Podemos placed third in December's election as a stand-alone party, taking 69 seats in Spain's 350-strong lower house.
While their showing so far is similar to the December elections, the new coalition Unidos Podemos is determined to keep working to change the political system. "We will continue to be the face of political transformation in Spain," said Errejon. "We will evaluate the political implications once we have the final results."
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party, that came in second in December with 90 seats, is seen sinking to between 78 and 85. That would be its worst result in over 40 years and would put it in an excruciating position in another highly fragmented parliament where no single party is expected to carry a majority.
To avoid a third election, the PSOE may have to either back a left-wing coalition fronted by a party that imperils its existence, or enable a minority government led by a foe, the right-wing People's Party which is seen coming in first, with around 120 seats.
Its most natural potential coalition partner, the rightist Ciudadanos, looks likely to win only about 40 seats, leaving them well short of the 176 needed for an absolute majority.
Many analysts believe, however, that the 137-year-old Socialist Party would prefer to form a "grand coalition" with the People's Party of the current acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, or give passive support to a minority PP government, rather than get into bed with a group that threatens its existence.
As a result of the leftist offensive, the PSOE have spent much of the campaign trying to explain to disenchanted voters why they should not cast their ballot for Unidos Podemos rather than discussing its policies.