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Spanish PM accuses far-left of ending talks to form government

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Madrid (AFP)

Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Monday that far-left party Podemos had ended talks on forming a new government, a week before he faces an investiture vote in parliament.

Sanchez's Socialist party won 123 seats in early polls in April, the most by any party, but still fell far short of an absolute majority in the 350-seat assembly.

To be sworn in for another term, he will need the backing of Podemos which won 42 seats as well as that of several other smaller regional parties.

Sanchez faces a confidence vote in parliament on his bid to form a new government on July 23 but during an interview with radio Cadena Ser he said Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias has "unilaterally broken" talks as he has called for a vote by party members on that same day on whether to back the Socialists.

It is "a big smokescreen on the part of Iglesias to justify refusing my investiture", Sanchez said.

Podemos is insisting that its members figure in the new cabinet.

Sanchez has steadfastly refused this condition although in recent days he has softened his stance, saying they could be given some junior posts. But he said Iglesias has rejected this offer.

Even if he secures Podemos support, Sanchez still looks set to fall short of an absolute majority in parliament on Tuesday needed to be sworn in a for a second firm.

He would then face a second confidence vote two days later when he will require only a simple majority -- more "yes" than "no" votes.

With this in mind Sanchez has repeatedly called on the conservative Popular Party and the centre-right Ciudadanos to abstain from voting to make it possible for him to be sworn in on a second vote.

If Sanchez loses the second investiture vote, a two-month period opens during which parties would have to resolve the stalemate before new elections are automatically triggered.

They would be Spain's fourth general election in four years.

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