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Spain's conservative party wins elections but must form ruling coalition

Spain's center-right ruling party and Socialists must for the first time share power with anti-austerity and liberal newcomers.

By Fred Lambert
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sits in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 13, 2014. On Dec. 20, 2015, Rajoy's ruling Popular Party won the most seats in national elections but lost its parliamentary majority, forcing it to form a governing coalition with rival parties. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sits in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 13, 2014. On Dec. 20, 2015, Rajoy's ruling Popular Party won the most seats in national elections but lost its parliamentary majority, forcing it to form a governing coalition with rival parties. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool | License Photo

MADRID, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Spain's ruling Popular Party won the most seats during general elections on Sunday but lost its parliamentary majority and must now form a governing coalition.

The PP won 123 seats in comparison to its traditional rival, the Socialist Workers' Party, which won 90. The two parties have for more than three decades alternated running the country, but the anti-austerity Podemos party -- which won 69 seats -- and the liberal Ciudadanos party -- which gained 40 -- fielded national candidates for the first time.

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The BBC quoted Inigo Errejon, spokesman for the Podemos party, as saying two-party politics had ended in Spain, which was "entering a new era."

The PP held 186 seats in the outgoing parliament but on Sunday fell 53 seats short of the 176 needed for a majority.

Following the announcement of the results, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reportedly told supporters he would try to form "a stable government."

The Spanish economy, a separatist movement in Catalonia and corruption allegations in the government were among the issues at stake in Sunday's election, which reportedly garnered a 72 percent voter turnout, up slightly from 2011.

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Unemployment in Spain stands at 21 percent -- the second-highest rate in the European Union behind Greece -- but is down six percentage points from 2013. Austerity measures implemented by Rajoy's administration, while unpopular, were credited with fostering growth in the country's economy.

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