MADRID A majority of Spaniards believe that new national elections will have to be called given that party leaders have been unable to agree on a viable coalition after an inconclusive poll in December, a survey showed on Sunday.
The head of the Socialist party, Pedro Sanchez, is leading talks to form a government and end the almost two-month political stalemate, but so far he has made little progress.
Sanchez said on Friday he hoped to reach an agreement over a coalition by the end of the month and would seek a confidence vote in parliament in early March. Failure in the vote would give other party candidates two more months to form an alternative majority before a new election would be called.
According to the survey, by polling firm GAD3 for the newspaper ABC, about 58 percent of the 800 people polled said parties would not be able to reach an agreement and new elections would be held, almost 5 percent more than a month ago.
Sanchez has ruled out backing acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's centre-right People's Party (PP), and disagreements with anti-austerity party Podemos are making his preferred coalition of leftist parties difficult to attain.
Furthermore, the support of Podemos alone for a coalition would not be enough. The Socialists would need the backing of at least three parties and the abstention of several others to achieve a majority.
Sanchez, who came second in the December election, is eager to avoid a return to the ballot box. Recent surveys show Podemos overtaking the Socialists if another election were held.
(Reporting by Angus Berwick; Editing by Stephen Powell)