Voters in Spain are preparing to go to the polls for the country’s fourth general election in as many years.
The last election, in April, saw the ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) unable to form a coalition after winning the most seats – but not a majority – in parliament in Madrid.
The country has been struggling to form a stable government since 2015.
The vote is being overshadowed by unrest in Catalonia and the rise of the far-right Vox party.
After April’s vote, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez entered coalition talks with the leftist Podemos party, but these collapsed – causing them to miss a September deadline to form a new government.
At a closing rally on Friday, Mr Sánchez told supporters: “There are only two options: either vote for the Socialists so that we have a government, or vote for any other party to block Spain from getting a progressive government.”
He is arguably at an advantage in his current position as caretaker leader, despite having never won a parliamentary majority.
But the latest opinion polls show none of the parties winning a majority.
Instead they show Socialists in the lead again, but with fewer votes than in April’s election, and the conservative Popular Party (PP) and Vox making gains.
The election also comes less than a month after Spain’s Supreme Court handed out lengthy jail sentences to nine Catalan independence leaders, triggering protests and violence on the streets of Catalonia.
The Catalan crisis has dominated the election campaign, with parties on the right – Vox, the PP and the centre-right Ciudadanos – taking a hardline anti-separatist stance.
Support for Vox surged in the last election, with the party winning 24 seats in parliament with more than 10% of the vote. Meanwhile, the PP suffered its worst ever general election performance.