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1-min read

Acting Spain PM Fails at First Chance to Form Government

The defeat was expected after Monday's parliamentary debate featured Snchez and United We Can leader Pablo Iglesias blaming each other for not ceding enough ground to form a center-left, far left coalition government.

Associated Press

Updated:July 23, 2019, 11:59 PM IST
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Acting Spain PM Fails at First Chance to Form Government
Spain's Socialist (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez smiles from his seat before the final day of a motion of no confidence debate in Parliament in Madrid, Spain. (Image: Reuters)
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Madrid: Spain's caretaker prime minister has two days to strike a deal with his left-wing rivals to back his bid to stay in power after his first attempt to form a new government failed on Tuesday.

Pedro Sanchez's Socialist Party won April 28 national elections, but fell short of a majority. His weeklong attempts to entice the far-left United We Can party came to nothing. Sanchez needed to get the support of 176 lawmakers in the 350-member lower house to be able to form a government. Instead, he only received the "Yes" votes of his 123 Socialist lawmakers and one member of a marginal regional party.

The three right-wing parties and some smaller parties tallied 170 "No" votes, while another 52 lawmakers abstained. Four Catalan separatists who were suspended from their seats while awaiting a verdict in a rebellion trial could not vote.

The defeat was expected after Monday's parliamentary debate featured Snchez and United We Can leader Pablo Iglesias blaming each other for not ceding enough ground to form a center-left, far left coalition government.

The focus now shifts to Thursday, when the bar will be lower for Snchez and he will need just more "Yes" than "No" votes.

But key again will be United We Can. On Monday, Iglesias accused Sanchez of not wanting to give politicians of his party relevant roles in his new Cabinet. Sanchez countered that he offered Iglesias several options that he had rejected.

Even with United We Can on board, Snchez would also require the help of some smaller parties from the Basque Country and restive Catalonia. Sanchez insisted before Tuesday's vote that United We Can is his "preferred partner" and that he will work hard during the coming 48 hours to forge a last-minute agreement.

United We Can parliamentary spokeswoman Ione Belarra said her party's decision to abstain instead of voting "No" on Tuesday is their way of sending a message that the door is not closed.

"We are going to continue working so that there can be a coalition government," she said. "Time is running out and that obliges the Socialist Party to make a move."

If Sanchez fails again, then a countdown starts to Sept. 23 for lawmakers to form a government or face another election, which would be Spain's fourth in five years. Sanchez could try again during that two-month period, especially given that the parties on the right cannot reach a majority by themselves.

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