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Sánchez named Spain's caretaker PM after inconclusive vote

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Sánchez named Spain's caretaker PM after inconclusive vote
If the political deadlock is not resolved in the coming months, Spain will likely have to hold a repeat election. Photo by Pierre-Philippe MARCOU/AFP

Pedro Sánchez was on Tuesday formally named caretaker prime minister of an interim government that will remain in place until Spain resolves the political uncertainty that emerged from Sunday's inconclusive elections.

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Although Alberto Nunez Feijóo's right-wing Popular Party (PP) won the vote, it fell short of a governing majority, handing Sánchez's Socialists a lifeline as they have more options to create alliances with smaller parties.

"I hereby declare the dismissal of Pedro Sánchez as head of government who will remain in office until a new prime minister takes office," King Felipe VI said in the official State Gazette.

If the political deadlock is not resolved in the coming months, Spain will likely have to hold a repeat election.

Although Feijóo's PP won 136 of the 350 seats in parliament, it fell far short of the 176 needed to govern, and even with the support of Vox's 33 mandates, it can only reach 169.

Even so, Feijóo has demanded the right to form a minority government as winner of the vote, and on Monday began talks with various regionalist parties which look certain to fail given Vox's extreme positions and strong opposition to regional autonomy.

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The Basque PNV party, which won five seats, already indicated on Monday that it had no interest in talking with Feijóo.

Although the left-wing bloc won fewer seats, with Sánchez's Socialists finishing second with 122 seats and its radical-left ally Sumar winning 31, giving them a total of 153, they can seek support from ERC, a left-wing Catalan separatist party and the Basque separatists Bildu.

READ ALSO: Spain's election gridlock - What happens next?

The biggest challenge for Sánchez would be to secure the abstention of hardline Catalan separatist party JxCat in a parliamentary investiture vote.

Sumar on Monday said it had tasked one of its Catalan representatives to seek talks with JxCat which, with its seven seats, became the unwitting kingmaker of Sunday's election.

If everything came together, Sánchez could rally 172 lawmakers behind him, which would be enough to get through a second investiture vote where only a simple majority is required -- as long as JxCat didn't to vote against him.

But the two rival blocs are still waiting for the votes from abroad to be counted, which will only begin on Friday and could take several days.

Media reports said those figures could swing the seats in one direction or another in provinces where only a few votes separated the left and the right.

READ MORE: Fugitive Catalan leader could determine who governs in Spain

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