Spanish Socialist leader reaffirmed on Wednesday his party’s intention to vote against a government led by the conservative People’s Party (PP), potentially extending a seven-month political deadlock.
The PP won the most votes in a June 26 election, the second in six months, but fell short of a majority, leaving acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with the task of convincing other parties to join it or at least abstain from blocking it in forming a government.
“We will vote against (Mariano) Rajoy as a prime ministerial candidate,” Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said after a nearly hour-and-a-half meeting with the acting prime minister.
Sanchez also ruled out a “grand coalition” of the left and right, as has happened in some other European countries such as Germany, though he added he would do anything to avoid forcing Spain into a third election.
Sanchez’s party has repeatedly said it would vote against a repeat of the PP government, although many analysts believe it could change its mind to avoid sending Spaniards back to the polls for a third time after two inconclusive elections.
Spanish liberal party Ciudadanos had earlier raised pressure on the Socialists after saying it would abstain in a confidence vote for a conservative government. Ciudadanos placed fourth in the June election.
The PP gained only 137 seats in the 350-strong assembly, failing to break a stalemate that has hamstrung Spanish politics since the first election in December, which produced a similarly inconclusive result.
“We have to find some way of unblocking this situation and we think a technical abstention is better than … having a third election,” Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera, whose party won 32 seats, told reporters.
“I hope other parties can do what we have done today.”
If only Ciudadanos abstained, Rajoy would still have to win the support of 23 lawmakers from other parties to secure a parliamentary majority.
If the Socialists, who came second in the election, also abstained, the PP would be in a position to form a government.
It is not clear when a first parliamentary investiture vote could take place. Rajoy reiterated on Wednesday that he was aiming to organise it by the end of July or beginning of August to try and form a government.
If he were to lose the vote, a two-month deadline would be triggered to form a government or call a third election.