Spain facing repeat election after talks fail

Madrid (AFP) –


Spain will hold a repeat general election in November -- its fourth in four years -- after acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez failed to secure the support he needs from other parties to continue in the role.

"Spain is bound to hold new elections on November 10," Sanchez told a news conference late on Tuesday after King Felipe VI concluded there was no candidate with enough support to form a government.

Sanchez's Socialists won an April general election but only secured 123 of the parliament's 350 seats. That left him dependent on support from other parties in Spain's deeply fragmented parliament to be confirmed premier for another term.

Sanchez had until Monday to be confirmed by parliament or else fresh elections would be automatically called for November 10, but his talks with other parties to try to win their support have been fruitless.

He said the result of the king's consultations with party leaders "is clear. There is no majority in the assembly that could guarantee the formation of a government."

After wrapping up two days of talks with party leaders on Tuesday, the king said in a statement that he would not put forward a new candidate to seek the confidence of parliament to become prime minister since no party leader had enough support.

Spain, the eurozone's fourth-largest economy, has been gripped by political instability since the December 2015 elections ended the traditional two-party system with the emergence of far-left group Podemos and the business-friendly Ciudadanos.

And the rise of far-right upstart Vox, which entered parliament following April's election, has further complicated the political picture.

Sanchez came to power in June 2018 by winning a surprise no-confidence vote against conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy with the support of Podemos as well as Catalan separatist parties and Basque nationalists.

Polls suggest the Socialists would win more seats in a repeat election but still fall short of a majority.

Spain faces several challenges for which it needs a stable government: an ongoing separatist movement in its northeastern region of Catalonia, high unemployment, low wages and job insecurity.

But Sanchez failed twice in July to be confirmed by the assembly following a dispute with Podemos and its leader Pablo Iglesias that has yet to be resolved, with the two men trading accusations over the deadlock in parliament on Wednesday.

The Socialists had initially sought to form a coalition, albeit reluctantly, with Podemos, offering several government portfolios, but the party refused, saying the posts did not carry enough political clout.