With 96% of the votes counted, the Socialists won 120 seats, down three seats from the last election in April and still far from the absolute majority of 176 needed to form a government alone. Celebrating that his party came first in Sunday's national election, Sánchez vowed to begin the work Monday of clearing the stalemate that had brought Spaniards to the polls for the fourth time in four years.
He also told supporters that "we extend this call to all the political parties except those that ... plant the seeds of hate in our democracy." His reference hinted at the far-right and possibly also at separatist Catalan parties.
The leader of Spain's traditional conservative party says he will work toward helping Spain ends its political deadlock after Sunday's inconclusive national election.
Pablo Casado says his Popular Party will "exercise our responsibility because Spain cannot continue to be deadlocked" after a second election in seven months that only heralds more instability.
Casado's party won 87 seats and remained the second force in the lower house of the National Parliament, recovering from a historically poor result in an election in April, when it gained 66 seats.
Spain has no precedent of a coalition national government, but Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists will need help to stay in power after winning Sunday's vote with 120 seats while falling short of the 176 needed for a majority.
Casado says that "the ball is the court" of Sánchez.
Albert Rivera says members of his center-right Citizens party will decide on the its next steps after suffering huge losses in Sunday's national election.
Citizens, a party born in Catalonia to counteract growing separatist sentiment there, plunged from 57 elected lawmakers in April to 10 now, according to preliminary results with nearly 100% votes counted.
Rivera said he was taking responsibility for the bad results.
"There are no excuses," Rivera told supporters in a brief speech at the party's headquarters in Madrid.
"I went into politics because I love Spain," he continued. "Let's accept what Spaniards have voted democratically."
Right-wing populist and anti-migrant leaders across Europe are celebrating the strong results of the upstart far-right Vox party in the Spanish election.
Marine Le Pen, who heads France's National Rally party, congratulated Vox leader Santiago Abascal, saying it's impressive how his work "is already bearing fruit after only a few years."
In Italy, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League party tweeted a picture of himself next to Abascal with the text "Congratulations to Vox!" above Spanish and Italian flags.
Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders also posted a picture of himself and Abascal and wrote "FELICIDADES" — Spanish for congratulations — with three thumbs-up emojis.
Vox, which only entered Spain's parliament in April, more than doubled its support in Sunday's national election to become Spain's third-biggest party.
Preliminary results with 91% of the votes counted show Spanish Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez winning Sunday's general election but the ballot won't immediately clear up the political deadlock.
The Socialists were on pace to win 121 seats, two less than in April's election.
United We Can, the anti-austerity party whose leader on Sunday opened the door to backing a Socialist government, would get 35 seats. That would make support necessary from smaller and regional parties to form a leftist government.
The far-right Vox party, which has a hard line on immigration and separatism in the northeastern Catalonia region, has more than doubled its seats in parliament, from 24 to 53.
But its results, despite the gains for the conservative Popular Party, which climbed from 66 to 86 seats, aren't enough to give the right-wing an immediate mandate to form a government coalition. The center-right Ciudadanos, once tipped to become the country's second political force, fell from 57 to 10 lawmakers.
With 70% of the votes counted, the Socialists of Pedro Sánchez remained in the lead in Sunday's repeated election in Spain, but still short of a majority needed to form a stable government.
The Socialists were on pace to lose one seat, from 123 to 122, but a leftist governing alliance with the anti-austerity United We Can, which appears to have won 35 seats, would still be far from the 176 lawmakers needed for a majority in the 350-seat parliament.
The far-right Vox party is poised to become the country's third political force, more than doubling its presence in the parliament's lower house, from 24 to 53 deputies, only six months after its debut.
That result also wouldn't be enough for a right-wing bloc to form a government, with the conservative Popular Party winning 84 seats, up from 66, and but the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) plunging to 10, from 57 in the previous vote.
Spain's Interior Ministry says early results show Socialists winning Spain's national election, but without a clear end to the country's political deadlock.
The far-right Vox party is also surging to become the country's third political force, preliminary data from 22% of the votes cast in Sunday's election shows.
Incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists would win 122 seats in the national parliament, one less than in the April election but short of the 176 majority needed to govern solo. Its natural ally, the anti-austerity United We Can, would lose seven lawmakers, with 24 seats.
The conservative Popular Party, leader of the opposition, is poised to recover from the 66 seats won in April, a historical low, to get 83 lawmakers from Sunday's vote. The far-right Vox would nearly double its current presence in the Congress of Deputies, from 24 to 36 lawmakers.
Polls have closed in continental Spain in the country's national election, where left-wing and right-wing parties are fiercely competing to see who can form the next coalition government.
A survey by Spain's public broadcaster released as the polls closed says the ruling Socialists are en route to win the country's second election this year but will be even further from putting together a parliamentary majority.
The RTVE survey, which polled more than 13,000 voters between Oct. 25 and Sunday's ballot, signaled that Spain may run into another political stalemate. In April, the Socialists won 123 seats in the parliament's lower house, 53 seats short of a majority.
Polls in the Canary Islands remain open for another hour.
Local authorities of small town in northeastern Spain say that police have arrested a man who was carrying a pistol in a polling station in Sunday's national election.
Amposta Mayor Adam Tomas says that the 70-year-old man was carrying the weapon in a bag and was arrested when he refused to show it police officers inside the polling station in the town in the region of Catalonia.
It is illegal to carry weapons in a polling station in Spain.
Also, Spanish government official Isabel Goicoechea said that that two people died while trying to vote. Newspaper El País reported that one of them was an elderly woman who died after losing consciousness while on the way to vote, while an older man reportedly had a heart attack at a polling station in the northern Basque Country.
Spain's Interior Ministry says turnout for Sunday's national election is 4 percentage points lower than the last ballot six months ago, when the Socialists won but fell short of a majority to form a new government.
As of 6 p.m., 56.86% of the country's 37 million eligible voters had cast their ballots, down from 60.74% at the same time in the April 28 election.
The lower turnout had been expected, since recent polls suggested up to 35% of voters could skip the country's fourth ballot since 2015 because they felt jaded by the political stalemate.
Lower temperatures across Spain on Sunday and heavy rain in some northern provinces could have also contributed to people staying at home.
Analysts say lower turnout has traditionally hurt the country's left-wing parties.
Dozens of people have cheered and shouted "President! President!" as Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain's far-right Vox party, voted in Madrid.
Vox won 24 seats in the 350-seat national parliament in the last election in April, making it the first time in decades that a far-right party held seats in the chamber. It is also expected to make strong gains in Sunday's national vote.
Polls predict the party could jump from 5th place to become Spain's third-ranking party, after the ruling Socialists and the center-right Popular Party, the group from which Vox's founders stem.
Surrounded by supporters, Abascal, 43, said he did not have many expectations Sunday but hoped "the election serves to reinforce Spanish unity."
Vox favors a tough stance against secessionists in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia, including illegalizing pro-independence parties. It also wants harsher regulations against immigration.
Spain's Interior Ministry says turnout for Sunday's national election so far is 3.5 percentage points lower than the last ballot earlier this year.
The ministry said as of 2 p.m., 37.9 % of eligible voters had cast their ballots, down from 41.5% at the same time in the April 28 election.
Party leaders have urged voters to come out as polls suggest that up to 35% of Spain's 37-million strong electorate on Sunday could skip the country's fourth ballot in as many years.
Incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialist party won the most votes in the last election in April but was unable to get enough support to form a government. The party is tipped to win again, but without a majority.
Spain's main political party leaders are calling on all citizens to vote Sunday as fears rose of a low turnout.
"Let nobody stay at home," said Albert Rivera, of the third-ranked center-right Citizens party.
The call for voters to go to the polls was repeated by incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, conservative Popular Party leader Pablo Casado, and far-left United We Can party leader Pablo Iglesias.
Opinion polls suggest up to 35 percent of the 37-million strong electorate could stay away from the polling booths.
Officials said postal voting was down 27 percent to just under 1 million.
Spain's United We Can party leader Pablo Iglesias says he will leave behind all reproaches and offer a helping hand to the incumbent ruling Socialist party to form a stable leftist government.
Failure to reach agreement between the Socialists and United We Can, Spain's fourth largest party in parliament, following the last election in April was one of the main reasons for the calling of Sunday's vote, the fourth in as many years.
"We are going to offer a helping hand to the Socialist party. We think that combining the courage of United We Can and the experience of the Socialist party we can convert our country into a reference point for social policies," Iglesias said Sunday.
"We are going to leave behind the reproaches," he added.
Spain's incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is one of the first party leaders to cast his vote as the country goes to the polls for the fourth time in as many years.
The election was called by Sánchez who won the most votes in the last ballot in April but failed to whip up enough parliamentary support to form a government.
Sánchez voted shortly after 9.30 a.m. (0830 GMT) in Pozuelo de Alarcon close to Madrid.
"I think it's very important that we strengthen the democracy with our vote, encourage all citizens to vote and as of tomorrow we may have the stability to form a government and get Spain moving," Sánchez said.
Sánchez is tipped to win again but Spain may face another stalemate situation.
Spaniards were voting Sunday in the country's fourth election in as many years with Catalonia's secession drive and the predicted rise of a far-right party dominating the campaign.
The election was called by incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who won the most votes in the last ballot in April but failed to whip up enough parliamentary support to form a government.
Sánchez is tipped to win again but Spain may face another stalemate situation and months more without a stable government.
The four main parties contending centered their campaigns chiefly on ways to deal with Catalonia's independence push and the feared surge of the far-right party Vox (Voice).
Abstentions loom, with polls suggesting up to 35 percent of the electorate could stay away from the polling booths, up from 28 percent in April.
Voting stations opened at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) and are set to close at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT), with results expected within hours.
Spain, a country which returned to democracy after a near four-decade right wing dictatorship under late Gen. Francisco Franco, used to take pride in claiming no far-right group had seats in the national parliament, unlike the rest of Europe.
But that changed in the last election when Vox erupted onto the political scene by winning 24 seats on promises of taking a hard line on Catalonia and immigration.
The Socialists' April victory was nonetheless seen by many as something of a respite for Europe where right-wing parties had gained much ground in countries such as France, Hungary, Italy and Poland.
But many polls predict Vox, headed by Santiago Abascal, may do even better this time and capitalize on the pro-Spain nationalist sentiment stirred by the Catalan conflict and in response to the caretaker Socialist government's exhumation of Franco's remains last month from his gargantuan mausoleum so that he could no longer be exalted by supporters in a public place.
Vox has already joined forces with the other two right-of-center parties to take over many city and regional governments and no one doubts the three would readily band together to oust Sánchez.