Spain faces weeks of coalition talks after Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists (PSOE) scored big but failed to gain a majority in a snap election that split the right-wing bloc and let ultra nationalists into Parliament.
Time, though, is on their side.
With the country set to return to the polls on May 26 for regional, local and European Parliament elections, and Spain's three rightist parties unable to form a coalition even if they wanted to, Sánchez will go slowly, and a government is unlikely before June.
"We must wait and see what will happen in the municipal elections... in many regions and of course in the European Parliament," PSOE President Cristina Narbona told Spanish radio.
The Socialists came first in Sunday's snap poll, winning 123 seats out of 350, or close to 29 percent of the vote – short of an absolute majority but an improvement on the 85 seats they secured in the last election in 2016.
Their nearest rivals, the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP), bagged just 66 seats compared to 137 in 2016, its worst showing in over two decades.
Conservative votes were split among two other parties, the centre-right Ciudadanos and ultra-nationalist Vox, which won just over 10 percent of the vote in a country that has had no far-right party to speak of since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
The three rightist parties together have 147 seats, far from the 176-seat majority needed to govern.
The election was much commented in Europe, where the rise of far-right and/or populist movements has caused concern.
"The predominance of progressive forces in Spain and the collapse of the right-wing PP is a message of hope," Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted. "Let's not rush into predicting the dominance of the right in Europe."
Italy's hardline Interior Minister Mateo Salvini thought otherwise, noting Vox had gone from "0 to 24 seats," and congratulating its leader Santiago Abascal, as did French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Sánchez, who has never been elected before, coming to power in June after ousting PP prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote, has several options to govern.
But the separatists have proven unreliable allies. Sánchez was forced to call the election after they joined the PP and Ciudadanos in opposing his 2019 budget.
His reliance on separatists also earned him accusations from right-wing parties of being a "traitor," for trying to engage with them to try to ease tensions over Catalonia's failed secession bid in 2017.
A message that fell flat as Spaniards flocked to vote, with turnout close to 76 percent, around 10 percentage points higher than in 2016.