Spain goes to the polls for second time in a year in bid to break deadlock

People in Spain have begun voting in the country's fourth election in as many years, and the second this year.

Catalonia's secession drive and the predicted rise of a far-right party have dominated the campaign.

The election was called by incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

He won the most votes in the last ballot in April but failed to gain enough parliamentary support to form a government.

Spain's caretaker Prime Minister and socialist candidate Pedro Sanchez casts his vote for the general election in Pozuelo de Alarcon. Credit: PA

Mr Sanchez is tipped to win again but Spain may face another stalemate situation and months more without a stable government.

The four main parties contending the election concentrated their campaigns chiefly on ways to deal with Catalonia's independence push and the feared surge of the far-right party Vox.

Spain, a country which returned to democracy after a near four-decade right-wing dictatorship under the late General Francisco Franco, used to take pride in claiming no far-right group had seats in the national parliament, unlike the rest of Europe.

Popular Party leader Pablo Casado casts his vote for the general election in Madrid, Spain. Credit: PA

But that changed in the last election when Vox erupted onto the political scene by winning 24 seats on promises of taking a hard line on Catalonia and immigration.

The Socialists' April victory was nonetheless seen by many as something of a respite for Europe where right-wing parties had gained much ground in countries such as France, Hungary, Italy and Poland.