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Spain's Socialists refuse to back Rajoy bid to form new government

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Spain's Socialists refuse to back Rajoy bid to form new government
Photo: Pedro Armestre/AFP
15:21 CET+01:00
The head of Spain's Socialist party, Pedro Sánchez, has refused to back a government led by prime minister Mariano Rajoy, ruling out a grand coalition of Spain's two traditional parties after Sunday's inconclusive election.

"We were clear: we will vote against the continuity of the Popular Party at the helm of the government, with Mariano Rajoy as prime minister," Pedro Sanchez told a news conference after holding talks with Rajoy for the first time since Sunday's election.

With the Popular Party winning only 123 seats - far short of the 176 it needs for an absolute majority - it is seeking to form a minority government.

To do so it needs the Socialist PSOE, which came in second with 90 seats, to support it during a vote of confidence in parliament.

 

If the Popular Party fails to form a government, Sanchez said the Socialists would "explore all options for there to be a government of change".   

READ: Seven reasons why forming a government is mission impossible

With left-wing parties holding the balance of power in the new parliament, the Socialists could form a government by joining forces with anti-austerity Podemos and other smaller nationalist forces.

That outcome would mirror events in neighbouring Portugal where the ruling conservatives won an October election but fell to a Socialist government backed by leftist parties just days later.

Under Spanish law, the new parliament must be called by January 13th, after which lawmakers have two months to elect a government. If they fail, the acting prime minister has to call a new election.

Sanchez said holding fresh elections should be the "last option" to overcome the impasse.

Meanwhile Ciudadanos have called for dialogue with the PP and the Socialists with a view to striking "a pact for Spain".

"We propose a pact for Spain to the Popular Party and the Socialists so that nobody takes advantage of weakness, uncertainty and instability to break up the country," said Albert Rivera at a press conference on Wednesday in a reference to a strong secessionist drive in Catalonia.

He has been invited to meet with Rajoy to the presidential palce in Moncloa on Monday as has Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos.

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