Voting started at 9am on Sunday and ends at 8pm in mainland Spain for what will be the country's third national election in four years, each of which has brought a further dislocation of the political landscape.
Peralta projects a possible coalition between PSOE and Ciudadanos, despite bitter rhetoric exchanged between their leaders during the campaign, in which Ciudadanos candidate Albert Rivera called the prime minister a traitor for negotiating with Catalan separatists and vowed not to support a new mandate for the socialists. Everyone knows that. As for our decision, there has been no debate today.
But the result handed People's Party their worst election result ever as the centre-right group last half of its seats, securing just 66 representatives, down from 137 from the previous elections.
Another option would be for the socialists to go at it alone by making agreements with other parties to build support for Sanchez' investiture without a coalition.
Spanish socialists won the elections with 28,8% of the votes - that's 123 seats out of the 250 that make up the Spanish parliament. Vox, which formed five years ago, will be the first far-right party with a significant presence in Parliament since Spain transitioned to democracy after the 1976 death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.
But analysts believe it could do better, saying there may be many "hidden" Vox supporters who lie when asked by pollsters who they will be voting for, and it could prop up a right-wing government.
He suggested Pedro Sanchez's socialists (PSOE) managed to succeed by using the "fear of fascism" to win the most seats in the Madrid's lower house.
Pablo Simon, political science professor at Madrid's Carlos III University, said he expected no deal on a government before next month's European Parliament elections.
The main candidates in Spain's general election on Monday (22 April) clashed over how to handle Catalonia's independence drive, accusing each other of lying in a tense television debate that left questions open on what coalition deals could be struck.
According to Sunday night's count, he would require one Catalan separatist lawmaker to abstain but some seats were too close to call.
To remain in office, Sanchez will have to form a governing alliance with smaller parties.
The results raise the spectre of another period of instability for Spain, with Sanchez depending on alliances with hostile rivals in an environment that has soured since Catalonia's failed secession bid in 2017.
By the time polls had closed at 8pm local time, 6,990,379 Spaniards had cast their votes, with a turnout of 75.79 per cent - nine points higher than the 2016 election.
"It is important to underline that this remains a splitting of the right-wing vote, with Vox not having made inroads among traditional left-wing areas up to now".
The Catalan independentists, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (15), Junts per Catalunya (7), and the Basque Nationalist Party PNV (6) could potentially complete the coalition. Spanish stocks lagged broader European markets early on Monday but the spread of its benchmark government bond over its German equivalent tightened.
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