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The Latest: Voter turnout in Spain down from last vote

by Ace Damon
The Latest: Voter turnout in Spain down from last vote

MADRID (AP) – The latest election news in Spain (all local times):

3:00 pm

Spain's Interior Ministry says participation in Sunday's national elections so far is 3.5 percentage points lower than the last vote earlier this year.

The ministry said at 2 pm, 37.9 percent of eligible voters had voted, compared with 41.5 percent in the same period as the April 28 election.

Party leaders urged voters to leave, as polls suggest that up to 35 percent of Spain's 37 million voters on Sunday could skip the country's fourth vote in so many years.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's socialist party won the most votes in the last April elections, but could not get enough support to form a government. The party is inclined to win again, but without a majority.

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11:50

Spain's top political party leaders are urging all citizens to vote on Sunday for fear of low turnout.

"Don't let anyone stay at home," said Albert Rivera of the third center-right citizen group.

The call to voters to go to the polls was repeated by acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Conservative People's Party leader Pablo Casado and United We Can far-left leader Pablo Iglesias.

Opinion polls suggest that up to 35% of the 37 million strong voters may be away from the polling booths.

Officials said voting by mail fell 27 percent to just under 1 million.

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11.00 in the morning.

Spain's United We Can party leader Pablo Iglesias says he will leave all accusations behind and offer help to the ruling socialist party to form a stable left-wing government.

The failure to reach an agreement between the socialists and United We Can, Spain's fourth largest party in parliament after the last election in April, was one of the main reasons for calling Sunday's vote, the fourth in so many years. .

“We will offer help to the socialist party. We think that by combining the courage of United We Can and the experience of the Socialist Party, we can make our country a point of reference for social policies, ”Iglesias said on Sunday.

"We will leave the accusations behind," he added.

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10:10

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is one of the first party leaders to vote, while Spain goes to the polls for the fourth time in four years.

The election was called by Sánchez, who won the most votes in the last vote in April, but failed to gain enough parliamentary support to form a government.

Sánchez voted shortly after 9:30 pm GMT in Pozuelo de Alarcon, near Madrid.

"I think it is very important that we strengthen democracy with our vote, encourage all citizens to vote and from tomorrow we will have the stability to form a government and move Spain," said Sánchez.

Sanchez is inclined to win again, but Spain may face another stalemate.

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The Spanish voted Sunday in the country's fourth election in so many years with Catalonia's secession campaign and the expected rise of a far-right party that dominates the campaign.

The election was called by Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who got the most votes in the last vote in April, but failed to get enough parliamentary support to form a government.

Sánchez is inclined to win again, but Spain may face another impassive situation and months without a stable government.

The four main parties in dispute focused their campaigns mainly on ways to deal with Catalonia's independence effort and the feared wave of the far-right Vox (Voice) party.

Abstentions are approaching, with polls suggesting that up to 35 percent of the electorate may stay away from polling booths, up from 28 percent in April.

Voting stations open at 9am (0800 GMT) and should close at 8pm. (1900 GMT), with results expected within hours.

Spain, a country that returned to democracy after a right-wing dictatorship of nearly four decades under the late General Francisco Franco, used to be proud to say that no right-wing group had seats in the national parliament, unlike the rest of Europe.

But that changed in the last elections, when the Vox came on the scene, winning 24 seats, promising to have a hard line with Catalonia and immigration.

However, the Socialists' victory in April was seen by many as a break for Europe, where right-wing parties gained much ground in countries such as France, Hungary, Italy and Poland.

But much research predicts that Vox, led by Santiago Abascal, could do even better this time and capitalize on the pro-Spain nationalist sentiment sparked by the Catalan conflict and in response to the Socialist government's exhumation of Franco's remains last month. your gigantic mausoleum. that he could no longer be exalted by supporters in a public place.

Vox has already joined forces with the other two center-right parties to take over many regional and city governments, and no one doubts that the three would readily unite to expel Sánchez.

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