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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spanish Right Seeks Coalition to Nail Down Victory

MADRID -- Spain's likely new prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, lost no time on Monday in starting the hunt for government allies after his Popular Party won weekend elections but with no clear majority.

With celebrations for his party's ending of 13 years of Socialist rule barely concluded, the former tax inspector was on the phone to leaders of small regional parties talking deals.

The conservatives won 156 of the 350 seats in parliament, far fewer than had been predicted in pre-election polls, leaving them needing another 20 votes to be able to govern.

"The contacts have already started," Aznar told a news conference at party headquarters in Madrid.

Although the challenge facing the Popular Party, or PP, which has never been in government before, was a tough one, Aznar said that he was confident a solution would be found to give Spain a stable and effective government for the next four years.

Aznar said there was no alternative to a PP-led government because no other party was in a position to put together a credible coalition.

"I don't know what the solution will be [but] I believe we can find the formula for a good government for Spain," he said.

Skittish financial markets showed no such confidence. The peseta, Spanish bonds and shares all fell sharply as investors decided that the center-right PP, even if it did achieve a workable coalition, would struggle to carry out its pro-business programme.

Forming a government could take up to two months after King Juan Carlos makes his formal offer to Aznar as leader of the largest parliamentary party.

The conservatives have little option but to seek an accord with the Catalan Convergencia i Unio party and its wily boss Jordi Pujol, who kept outgoing Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez in power after he lost his majority in elections in 1993.