Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says he hopes his conservative Popular Party can form a strong, four-year coalition government or else be allowed run a minority one and avoid fresh elections.

Rajoy reiterated his offer to link up with second-place, center-left Socialists and fourth-place, business-friendly Ciudadanos although both have already said they will not back him.

Speaking Tuesday in Brussels, Rajoy said that if the other political groups don't want that, "I hope they at least let the party that won take office even though it would do so in difficult circumstances."

Rajoy's party won most seats in Sunday's election but again fell short of a majority. It was the country's second inconclusive election in six months.

Rajoy is expected to launch negotiations this week.