Spain entered a governing void Monday, facing weeks or months of uncertainty over what political party or parties will lead the country following a national election that fragmented the status quo. The result was so blurred that a German government spokeswoman said it was impossible to determine who deserved congratulations.
Although the ruling right-of-center Popular Party won the most votes, it failed to retain its parliamentary majority and will try to cobble together a coalition or minority government.
But that's unlikely, analysts say, because the party wouldn't get enough seats in the lower house of parliament even by allying itself with the new business-friendly Ciudadanos party that came in fourth place and is seen as the most likely ideological partner.
The ambiguous outcome helped push Spain's benchmark stock index down 3.1 percent in Madrid as investors fretted over the possibility of a governing alliance between the Socialist Party and the country's new far-left Podemos party, led by pony-tailed political science professor Pablo Igles.