Spain's regional elections reinforced the center-right People's Party (PP) on Sunday while dealing a blow to the opposition Socialists but failed to signal a clear path to avoid a third nationwide vote in December.
Two inconclusive general elections in December and June have plunged politicians into months of fruitless negotiations to try to assemble a government. Their inability to form a coalition means the country could be headed for a third election.
The ballots in the northern regions of Galicia and the Basque Country boosted acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy while the Socialists lost seats in both regions, but it remains to be seen if the results lead the Socialists to abstain in any future parliamentary vote of confidence to allow Rajoy a second term as leader.
Rajoy's PP easily romped to an absolute majority in his native Galicia, a conservative stronghold. The PP have ruled this rainy, northwestern region for most of Spain's four-decade democracy.
The conservative regional party, the Basque Nationalist Party, won most votes in the Basque Country, as expected, although not enough to rule by majority. It will now seek a coalition partner, most likely the Socialists.