MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Socialists said on Tuesday they would give up trying to install their leader Pedro Sanchez as prime minister if he fails to win two investiture votes this month, raising the prospect of yet another parliamentary election.
Those comments compounded the tension in already fraught relations among Spain’s main political parties, which blame each other for the fact that there is still no government in place two and a half months after the election.
Sanchez, who came to power in June 2018 after parliament ousted a conservative government over a fraud scandal, is currently acting prime minister after his party won April elections but without enough seats to govern on its own.
The Socialists’ most likely ally for a July 23 investiture vote is far-left Unidas Podemos, but its leader Pablo Iglesias and Sanchez again failed on Tuesday to agree on an alliance.
Speaking after the Sanchez-Iglesias meeting, Adriana Lastra, the Socialist spokeswoman in parliament, told a news conference: “There will be no change, from the investiture vote of July to one in September... There are no second chances.”
A source in Podemos responded that “it isn’t serious” for Sanchez to seek to be sworn in by parliament “without having the necessary support and while threatening repeat elections”.
If there is a repeat parliamentary election, it would take place in November and would be the fourth one in four years.
“The fear of new elections might ultimately force Unidas Podemos to support Sanchez, but the possibility of a repeat poll taking place in November cannot be discarded,” said Antonio Barroso, managing director of political consultancy Teneo.
On July 22-23 Sanchez needs to win an absolute majority - at least 176 votes - in the 350-seat Spanish lower house of parliament to be named prime minister.
If he fails to do so, the chamber will vote again within two days and in that vote he needs only a simple majority - where more lawmakers back him than oppose him or abstain - to be able to form the next government.
If that second vote fails, Sanchez could either call a second investiture vote in September or let a two-month period pass until a new election is automatically called in November.
Podemos wants ministerial portfolios in a coalition government and accuses Sanchez of trying to impose a single party government unilaterally. The premier has so far only offered them junior posts.
Reporting by Paul Day, Emma Pinedo and Belen Carreno; Writing by Joan Faus and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Heinrich