RULING centre-right Partido Popular has defeated the main Socialist opposition PSOE in a tense European Parliament election night.
The two-party dominance continued as predicted – with PP taking 16 seats and the PSOE taking 14 according to near complete results – but both parties lost ground to insurgent parties.
The PP and PSOE have dominated Spanish politics since the end of Francisco Franco’s rule in the 1970s, but their dominance has been affected by discontent over austerity measures.
Both fell far below their totals in the previous European elections in 2009, when together they won 47 seats.
Their combined share of the vote fell from about 80% then to just 49% on Sunday.
Eight smaller parties shared the remaining 24 seats, a larger total than pre-election opinion polls had predicted.
Spain has not joined the anti-EU feeling of many European countries, but voters did give strong support to anti-austerity leftist parties separatists in Cataluyna in favour of a referendum in November.
The biggest surprise of the election night was the strong performance from Podemos – the ‘We Can’ party – a product of Spain’s internet-driven ‘indignant’ movement against economic inequality and government austerity.
The ‘indignant’ movement – born with the establishment of a protest camp at Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol square in 2011 – inspired a similar global ‘Occupy’ movement.
The PP and PSOE dominance benefitted from a low voter turnout – of 45.7%. Although contrary to pre-election opinion polls, turnout was up from 2009, when it was just 44.9%.