A woman holds up a Spanish flag during an election rally to officially open the General Election campaign in Pamplona northern Spain, Thursday, April 11, 2019.
A woman holds up a Spanish flag during an election rally to officially open the General Election campaign in Pamplona northern Spain, Thursday, April 11, 2019.

MADRID - A new generation of young and media-savvy political leaders is vying to become Spain’s next prime minister in a general election Sunday. They are all men and less than 50.

A deeply divided parliament is expected to emerge from the ballot, and whoever gets the most votes will likely need to sit down and negotiate a complicated governing alliance.

Here’s a look at the main candidates vying to take office:

Manfred Weber, member of the CSU party and top candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) for the European elections speaks at a CSU party congress in Nuremberg, Germany, March 30, 2019.
Leading Conservative Candidate Warns Populists to Back a United Europe

The leading conservative candidate in next month's European Parliament elections says he would like to see Britain stay in the European Union and warned populist parties in Europe that they would have no place in the EU's largest political bloc unless they shared its vision of an "integrated and more ambitious Europe."
 
Manfred Weber, the center-right European People's Party candidate and front-runner to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, visited Greece on Tuesday to launch his campaign for the May 23-26 elections across the bloc.
 
His priorities include having

PEDRO SÁNCHEZ

Sánchez, the Socialist party leader and incumbent prime minister, is aiming to pull off yet another unexpected political turnaround.

He was forced to call an early election when his minority government failed to pass a national spending bill in February.

Now, all polls forecast that the Socialists will overtake the conservative Popular Party to garner the most votes on Sunday, but it will be nowhere near a majority.

That would be another surprising victory for the 47-year-old former basketball player who temporarily lost his party leadership in 2016 in an internal spat following two crushing defeats in consecutive national elections.

But rank-and-file party members took back Sánchez as the Socialists’ general secretary in mid-2017 and a year later he engineered a stunning maneuver and became prime minister, forcing his predecessor Mariano Rajoy to face a no-confidence vote over corruption cases tainting the Popular Party.

Members of Spain's far-right party VOX put up a campaign poster, while main candidates for Spanish general elections debate during a live televised debate ahead of general elections in Madrid, outside a polling station in Ronda, southern Spain April ...
Spanish General Election Candidates Clash over Catalonia

The main candidates in Spain's general election on Monday clashed over how to handle Catalonia's independence drive, accusing each other of lying in a tense television debate that left questions open on what coalition deals could be struck.

Spain's parliamentary election on April 28, one of the country's most divisive since its return to democracy in the late 1970s, is being fought more on emotional and identity issues, such as Catalonia's botched independence bid than on the economy.

No clear winner

None of the four candidates emerged as a clear winner from the late-night debate during which

PABLO CASADO

Casado is facing his first election as head of the Popular Party, Spain’s dominant conservative political force for the past three decades.

The 38-year-old lawyer, who has made most of his career in politics, took over as party chief in July vowing to clean up party corruption with a zero-tolerance approach.

Casado has been dragging the party toward more conservative ground and calling for a stronger stance on Catalan separatism. The goal is to prevent a flood of votes going to the center-right Citizens party, perceived as tougher on the Catalonia issue, and the far-right Vox.

ALBERT RIVERA

The 39-year-old Rivera is anything but shy. A university debate champion and water polo player in his youth, Rivera made his debut in politics in 2006 at age 27 by posing nude for a campaign poster.

He has since led Citizens. It began as a tiny party in Barcelona, created to fight the local Catalan secessionist movement, and it has now spread across Spain.

Presenting himself as a champion of free market, Rivera’s party has tried to carve out a space in the center of Spanish politics, enticing voters from both the Socialists and the Popular Party.

Citizens’ newcomer status is now threatened by the upstart Vox, which is also luring conservative voters.

Vox's Ciudad Real provincial candidate Ricardo Chamorro, left, and Toyan Patón during a meeting with local farmers at a bar in Brazatortas, on the edge of the Alcudia valley, central Spainو April 10, 2019.
Spain's Rural Regions Become Fierce Battleground for Votes

Spanish politicians are swapping campaign buses for tractors, buddying up with hunters and inspecting home-grown tomatoes in Spain’s often-neglected rural regions as they hunt for votes in Sunday’s general election, one of the country’s most polarized votes in decades.

The ballot comes as Spain’s traditional bipartisan political landscape — which used to revolve around the center-left Socialists and the conservative Popular Party — has fractured into five main political parties, including a far-right populist newcomer.

PABLO IGLESIAS

Iglesias was tipped to lead a leftist takeover of Spain in 2015. Now, the pony-tailed former TV politics commentator is struggling to keep his far-left United We Can party from breaking apart.

United We Can has been wracked by in-fighting among its leaders and the polls show it may pay a heavy price.

After returning from paternity leave to care for his premature twins he had with party No. 2 Irene Montero, the 40-year-old Iglesias is trying to rekindle the indignation of the jobless and those most hurt by austerity measures.

Sánchez may need to rely on Iglesias for support in a coalition.

SANTIAGO ABASCAL

Abascal is the scion of a family targeted by the now-defunct separatist group ETA in his native Basque region.

He made his career as a member of the Popular Party and now hopes he and others from his Vox party will become the first far-right lawmakers to sit in parliament since the 1980s.

The platform of Vox, which means voice in Latin, is to defend Spain from what it says are the dangers of separatism, Muslim immigration, feminism and liberals.

The 43-year-old Abascal unapologetically defends hunting, bullfighting and traditional and Catholic family values.

He has said that he wants to “reconquer” Spain, a reference to the 15th-century expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Spanish territory.

The pistol-carrying politician has called for dropping strict gun controls.