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MADRID (AP) — The latest developments on Spain's general election. All times local.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is hailing the result of Spain's election as voter rejection of the unpopular austerity measures that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his Popular Party invoked during the eurozone's debt crisis.
Tsipras says in a statement that "austerity has been politically defeated in Spain," adding that the results is vindication for those opposed to the tax hikes and spending cuts and a sign that "Europe is changing!"
Rajoy's party won the election but fell far short of the majority it currently has and with few if any options to forge alliances with others to stay in power in a coalition or as a minority government.
Tsipras and his Syriza party are allies of Spain's far left Podemos, run by pony-tailed political science professor Pablo Iglesias.
Podemos came in third in Spain's election, winning 69 seats in Spain's 350-member lower house of parliament.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has claimed victory in Spain's general election but acknowledged the win falls short of giving his Popular Party a workable majority in Parliament.
"Once again, we are the largest political force in Spain," Rajoy told around 200 supporters gathered outside his party headquarters in Madrid.
He said whoever wins a general election "must try and form a government," adding what Spain needed was a stable government that could command support in parliament.
With 99.9 percent of the vote counted, the Popular Party won just 123 seats in the 350-member lower house — far below the 186-seat majority it won four years ago after beating the Socialists in a landslide.
Rajoy recognized his party had taken "some difficult and even unpopular decisions" over the past four years.
Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez says the results of Spain's election prove voters want a change in political direction.
Sanchez told supporters early Monday that "Spain wants a move to the left."
Sanchez congratulated the ruling Popular Party for receiving more votes than any other party. He says it now falls to its leader Mariano Rajoy to try and form a government, even though the Popular Party did not obtain a parliamentary majority.
Sanchez says the results clearly show that talks among the parties must begin. He says the Socialists are "ready to dialogue, debate and reach accords."
The leader of Spain's far-left Podemos party says "the forces for change have made a great advance" after election results show the newcomer on the political scene on track to win 69 seats in the lower house of Parliament.
Addressing supporters in Madrid, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said late Sunday that Podemos won more votes than any other party in Catalonia and the Basque region, and finished second in important locations such as Madrid and Valencia.
He also spoke in English, saying "Spain is not going to be the same again, and we're happy. Our fight against corruption goes ahead."
The ruling Popular Party won the most votes in the general election, with 29 percent, but fell far short of winning a parliamentary majority and is at risk of losing power.
Spain's ruling Popular Party faces a big risk of losing power after winning the most votes in the general election but falling far short of winning a majority.
With 92 percent of the vote counted, the Popular Party came in first with 29 percent of the vote.
But it was on track to win only 122 seats in the 350-seat lower house of Parliament — far short of the 186 seats it now has.
The main opposition Socialist Party was on track to win 91 seats. The new far-left Podemos was heading toward winning 69 and the centrist Ciudadanos was set to get 40.
Ciudadanos was the most likely alliance partner for the Popular Party, but the number of combined seats they have isn't enough for a majority.
The Socialists could team up with Podemos and smaller parties to try to form a parliamentary majority without having to tap support from Ciudadanos.
Days or weeks of political negotiations are expected as the parties try to come up with a way to form a government.
Hundreds of jubilant Podemos supporters gathered outside their party headquarters in Madrid holding purple balloons, waving placards and cheering as general election results began to roll in confirming the newcomer on the political scene looked set to capture 68 seats and a chance of forming a coalition in parliament.
Many held pieces of paper with "Yes" written on them while others waved cards with Podemos — which in Spanish means "we can."
Standing in front of a large banner saying "One Country, with you we can," Inigo Errejon, who holds the No. 2 position in the party, addressed supporters late Sunday saying that Spain had changed.
"Many people have lost their confidence in traditional parties," he said. "The two-party system has ended."
An exit poll is projecting that Spain's ruling Popular Party has won the most votes in the general election, but has fallen far short of a majority.
A poll for the state-owned RTVE channel gave the Popular Party 26.8 percent of the vote. The main opposition Socialist Party, with 20.5 percent, is running neck-and-neck for second place with new far left party Podemos, which has 21.7 percent. Another upstart party, Ciudadanos, is far behind with 15.2 percent.
Podemos has eaten away support for the center-left Socialists, threatening to end decades of two-party dominance in Spain of the Popular Party and the Socialist Party.
Jorge Clemente, spokesman for pollster TNS Demoscopia, says its figures are based on 180,000 face-to-face interviews.
With two hours left before polls close, turnout for Spain's national election was up slightly compared to the last time the country held one in 2011.
The government says turnout as of 6 p.m. (1700 GMT) was 58.4 percent.
Voter participation was 57.7 percent at the same time during Spain's 2011 general election.
Polls close at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) and exit polls are expected with results predictions minutes later.
Fairly complete results should be tallied by about 10:30 p.m. (2130 GMT).
The leader of Spain's new business-friendly Ciudadanos party says his country is entering into a new era of democracy with a vote likely to end the nation's decades of two-party political dominance.
Casting his vote Sunday in a Barcelona working class suburb, Albert Rivera said he and other young Spaniards who weren't alive during the nation's 1939-1975 dictatorship "didn't experience the first democratic transition (and) are experiencing a second one."
He added: "This is a new era."
At age 36, Rivera is the youngest candidate among the four main parties vying for power. But without heavy voter turnout, Rivera warned that Spain might not change the way he wants it to.
"There have never been changes in Spanish politics when there has been low participation," he said.
Turnout as of 3 p.m. (1400 GMT) was slightly lower than during the last general election in 2011.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has voted in a well-heeled Madrid suburb and then headed off for a long lunch with his family before ballot counting in the general election.
Rajoy said he was confident "people will choose what they think is best for their country" as they decide whether to vote for his right-of-center Popular Party, the country's main opposition Socialist Party or two new upstart parties aiming to shake up Spain's traditional two-party dominance.
Rajoy told reporters who swarmed around him at his polling station in the suburb of Aravaca that he would head in the evening to the Popular Party's downtown Madrid headquarters to watch the results start coming in.
Rajoy and his party are seeking a second term after ousting the Socialists in a landslide in 2011.
The leader of Spain's main opposition Socialist Party has expressed hope that his fellow citizens will turn out in droves for a landmark election as he cast his vote in a wealthy Madrid suburb.
Pedro Sanchez, who showed up at a polling station in Pozuelo de Alarcon with his wife, says the "best news we can hope for today is that we get a high turnout of voters. Spaniards know that today is a historic day."
He added: "The future is not set in stone and we can write it with our vote."
The 43-year-old former university economics professor wasn't known by most Spaniards until his election last year to lead the Socialists, who were ousted as the ruling party in 2011 as the nation endured a prolonged economic slump.
Spain's new far left Podemos party has eaten away support for the center-left Socialists.
Spain's government said turnout Sunday was slightly less by 3 p.m. (1400 GMT0 than it was in the 2011 election.
Some of the voters choosing to support the new far-left Podemos party in Spain's general election are young and disillusioned with the country's two mainstream parties.
Miguel Redondo, a 19-year-old Madrid university student, voted for Podemos because "it's the party that best understands the difficulties that young people are going through."
Redondo, who is majoring in electrical engineering, said two of his close relatives had traveled overseas to find work.
"I saw how Podemos was born as a party and share many of the concerns on which it was founded," he said.
Podemos and the business-friendly Ciudadanos party gained strength by portraying the Popular and Socialist parties as out-of-touch and run by politicians who care more about their own power than citizens' needs.
The leader of Spain's new far-left Podemos party has hailed Sunday as an "historic" election day as he cast his ballot in a working class neighborhood of Madrid.
The pony-tailed Pablo Iglesias says Spain "is going through a new transition" as his party and another new upstart political party seek to take votes away from the nation's traditional Popular Party and Socialist Party, which have dominated Spanish politics for more than three decades.
His party and the business-friendly Ciudadanos party gained strength by portraying the Popular and Socialist parties as out-of-touch and run by politicians who care more about their own power than citizens' needs.
Iglesias said Sunday: "After tonight, I am sure the history of our country will change."
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