Spaniards oppose new elections, Podemos rises to second place: poll

Newly elected parliament speaker Patxi Lopez addressing deputies during the first session of parliament following a general election in Madrid on Jan 13, 2016.
Newly elected parliament speaker Patxi Lopez addressing deputies during the first session of parliament following a general election in Madrid on Jan 13, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - A majority of Spanish voters oppose holding fresh polls to resolve a political impasse caused by an inconclusive general election last month and want parties to form a coalition government instead, a survey showed on Sunday.

If new elections were held the results would be similar to the December vote and the deadlock would remain, although new anti-austerity party Podemos would edge out the Socialists from second place, according to the poll published in top-selling daily newspaper El Pais.

The conservative Popular Party (PP) of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy won 123 of the parliament's 350 seats in a Dec 20 general election, winning the most seats but falling short of an absolute majority. The Socialists came second with 90 seats.

Two new parties, Podemos and the centre-right Ciudadanos, won a combined 109 seats, ending decades of two-party dominance by the Popular Party and the Socialists and giving Spain a hung parliament in which a ruling majority cannot easily be formed.

Since the election, Mr Rajoy has met separately with leaders of the three rival parties and won implicit support only from Ciudadanos.

Spain's King Felipe VI will on Monday start holding consultations with the leaders of political parties with representation in parliament in a bid to help break the impasse.

Only 33 per cent of voters back a new election to end the deadlock while 61 per cent would prefer to see an agreement between the parties, according to the Metroscopia poll published in El Pais.

The Popular Party would once again capture the most votes if a fresh election were held, with their support at 29 per cent according to the poll. The party won 28.7 per cent of the vote in last month's general election.

Podemos, a close ally of Greece's ruling Syriza which has made fighting corruption and economic inequality the focus of its platform, would come in second place with 22.5 per cent support, up from 20.7 per cent in the election.

The Socialists would come in third as their support would fall to 21.1 per cent from 22 per cent during the election while Ciudadanos would once again come in fourth with 16.6 per cent support, up from 13.9 per cent in the general election.

The telephone poll of 1,200 eligible voters was carried out from Jan 12-14. It has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.