MADRID - Spain's Socialists increased their lead in two polls published late Saturday, with support from 28.8% to 30.3% of voters, but they fell short of a majority ahead of a general election on April 28.
A poll by El Pais newspaper gave the Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez 129 out of 350 seats in the parliament.
If a coalition was formed with their main ally, anti-austerity Podemos, they would hold a combined 162 seats, short of the 176 needed to secure a majority.
A coalition of three right-wing parties — People's Party (PP), Ciudadanos and Vox — would get 44.4% of votes, or 156 seats, 20 short of a majority.
To be re-elected, Sanchez would have to form a wide-ranging and delicate parliamentary majority with the support of the array of parties, including Podemos and Catalan pro-independence parties, that backed him last June when he won a vote of confidence against PP's government at the time.
But last February those Catalan parties voted against his budget proposal, forcing him to call for a snap election.
Another poll published by newspaper El Mundo gave the Socialists a potentially closer path to the premiership, but also to the three right-wing parties, in a sign of how close next week's election could be.
A coalition of PP, Ciudadanos and Vox would have 152 to 174 seats. The latter figure would be only two seats short of a majority.
The Socialists and Podemos would have the same number of seats as the right-wing parties, an estimated total of 152 to 174 seats.
But Sanchez could be re-elected as prime minister if, beyond Podemos, he manages to get the support of one or a few small regional parties, allowing him not to rely on Catalan pro-independence groups.
Both polls also show that the Socialists could get a majority if they reached a parliamentary alliance with Ciudadanos, as they did in 2016, but the center-right party has clearly ruled out that possibility.
The polls show some diverging estimates. El Mundo sees PP obtaining 20.1% of votes, gaining one percentage point since a Feb. 24 poll, while El Pais projects that its support would decrease from 19.3% in a poll on March 24 to 17.8%.
In the case of Vox, in the El Pais poll, its backing increases from 10.2% of votes a month ago to 12.5%. But in El Mundo it loses ground, from 13.3% to 10.2%.