• Spain's news in English
King Felipe steps up to try and end political deadlock in Spain
Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe at a ceremony on January 6th Photo: AFP

King Felipe steps up to try and end political deadlock in Spain

AFP · 20 Jan 2016, 10:42

Published: 20 Jan 2016 10:42 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The political crisis is the biggest challenge Felipe, 47, has faced since he took over the throne when his father Juan Carlos abdicated 18 months ago to try to revive the popularity of the scandal-hit monarchy.

Juan Carlos is credited with helping to smooth Spain's transition to democracy after the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, notably by standing against an attempted military coup in 1981.

But he never faced the dilemma now confronting his son who must propose a candidate for prime minister following a December 20 election which for the first time produced a hung parliament.

Up until now election results did not allow for "speculation, either because a party won with an absolute majority or because it had a big enough majority to attract support," said Antonio Torres del Moral, a constitutional law lecturer at Spain's UNED university.

All Juan Carlos had to do was nominate the head of the party that had won the most seats in that election, he added.

No absolute majority

This time around, the election result put an end to decades of dominance by the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists (PSOE), who have alternated in power since Franco's death.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP won the most seats in the December poll - 123 out of 350 - but fell far short of an absolute majority.

PSOE came in second with 90 seats and two new parties, which tapped into voter anger over corruption, high unemployment and economic inequality  - anti-austerity Podemos and centre-right Ciudadanos - won 69 seats and 40 seats respectively.

The remaining 28 seats went to six small parties.   

While the monarch has traditionally invited the party winner of the most seats to form a government, he can opt for an alliance of other parties if they can deliver a more stable option.

In a bid to end the impasse, Felipe on Monday began a week of talks with the leaders of all political parties which won representation in the new parliament.

The leader of the party who he will nominate - most likely Rajoy - must then win a vote of confidence in parliament to take office.

'Very delicate moment'

If there is still a deadlock two months after this first vote, the king must call fresh elections.

"It is a very delicate moment for the king because if political parties do not provide him with a solution by coming to an agreement, he must take decisions," said Jose Apezarena, author of several books about Felipe.   

The crisis comes as the new king seeks to boost the standing of the monarchy which began to lose its lustre during the twilight years of Juan Carlos' reign.

Story continues below…

He outraged Spaniards in 2012 by going elephant hunting in Botswana at the height of the country's recession.   

Then his youngest daughter Cristina was accused in a corruption probe targeting her husband. She went on trial on tax evasion charges last week, becoming the first Spanish royal in modern times to face prosecution.   

Felipe "doesn't have to take decisions that are as dramatic as his father's, but in the current climate ... if he manages to break the deadlock... it would be a good thing," said Jean-Michel de Waele, a political science professor at the Free University of Brussels.

Still, the road to a resolution in deeply divided Spain may prove bumpy yet.

The king suffered a first snub on Tuesday when representatives of Basque separatist party EH Bildu refused to meet him, considering they were not his "subjects".

By Gabriel Rubio - Giron / AFP

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available