MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday he was not planning to call a new election and would keep pursuing a deal to form government despite stalling inter-party talks ahead of a parliamentary vote on his investiture on July 22-23.
Politics in the euro zone’s fourth largest economy have become deeply fragmented with the emergence of new parties - notably the far-right - and a comeback for the left after a six-year conservative government hit by a corruption scandal.
Sanchez’s Socialist party (PSOE) won 123 seats in April’s parliamentary election, far short of a majority in the 350-seat lower house, forcing it to seek backing from other parties.
But right-wing movements the People’s Party (PP), Ciudadanos and Vox have ruled out supporting him.
“I’m not contemplating, and am not working on the assumption of, another election,” Sanchez told a television station, calling for a fresh start to political negotiations.
On Thursday, he spoke on the phone with the leader of the far-left Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, seen as PSOE’s most likely ally. But they were unable to reach agreement, two days after holding a similarly fruitless meeting.
Podemos wants ministerial portfolios in a coalition government, while the PSOE has only offered them junior posts.
Podemos sources said after the call that Sanchez remained unmovable and unwilling to negotiate a coalition.
Sanchez said he offered Iglesias to negotiate first a government programme and then its composition.
“Sadly, (Iglesias) refused the proposal. We will keep trying,” the acting prime minister said in a tweet.
On July 22-23, to be sworn in again as prime minister, he needs to win an absolute majority or at least 176 votes.
If that fails, within two days he must seek a simple majority - where more lawmakers back him than oppose him or abstain - to be able to form the next government.
Sanchez, 47, came to power in June 2018 after parliament ousted the PP over a fraud scandal.
On Tuesday, PSOE’s parliamentary spokeswoman said they would give up trying to install Sanchez as prime minister if he fails to win the two investiture votes this month, raising the prospect of a new election in November, which would be the fourth one in four years.
Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Belen Carreno and Joan Faus; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrew Cawthorne