By Ingrid Melander and Belén Carreño
MADRID, Nov 10 (Reuters) - The main candidates in Sunday's parliamentary election in Spain, the country's fourth national election in four years, have already dismissed several possible scenarios for forming a government by agreement if the result is inconclusive.
But all parties are well aware that voters do not want a fifth election, and they might have to strike a deal in the end.
Here are possible scenarios:
MINORITY SOCIALIST GOVERNMENT
The most likely scenario. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists lead in opinion polls though most see them winning slightly fewer seats than in the last election in April, down from 123 out of 350 to about 120.
The question is who their allies could be. In the past, their natural partners would have been the far-left Unidas Podemos. But there is bad blood between them after failed talks following the April election. And their chances of having enough seats to govern together are slim.
Other options could include a pact that regional parties would join, but considering the tensions over Catalonia's independence drive, that would also be tricky.
The option gaining traction would be an unusual one - the conservative People's Party (PP) abstaining in parliament to let Sanchez be voted in as prime minister.
But that support would not come for free and would likely come at the last minute to avoid a repeat election. It would not guarantee the budget can be adopted or that the government would last.
And if the far-right Vox gets a strong result, PP could fear that backing the Socialists, even without entering government, could hit it hard in the next election.
The centre-right Ciudadanos, predicted by opinion polls to collapse in this election, could also be tempted to support Sanchez to get back in the game.
The Socialists have said that if they win the election without a majority, they would make proposals to other parties within 48 hours and would aim to strike broad pacts on issues such as Spain's unity and regional financing.
SOCIALIST-LED COALITION GOVERNMENT
Much less likely but not impossible. The Socialists have made clear they want to govern alone. But they could eventually decide to change their mind if that is the only way to stay in government.
Less likely than a Socialist government but cannot be ruled out after they gained some steam after riots by separatists in Catalonia mobilised some right-wing voters.
About a third of voters are still undecided, opinion polls showed, meaning even unlikely scenarios still have a chance of happening.
No matter what happens, this will always be a possibility. Rival parties will all try to blame each other but the threat of this happening will also be the main reason behind efforts to strike a deal.
ONE SINGLE PARTY GETS A MAJORITY
Next to impossible. Opinion polls, political leaders and analysts all agree this will not happen. The Socialists are ahead in opinion polls but with less than a third of the votes.
(Additional reporting by Clara-Laeila Laudette Writing by Ingrid Melander Editing by Angus MacSwan and Frances Kerry)