MADRID – Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has lost a vote of support in parliament to form a government.
The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), who is seeking to stay in office, received 124 votes in favor, 170 against, while there were 52 abstentions in the lower chamber of parliament on Tuesday.
His party won 123 seats in a snap election on 28 April, but needed backing from the left-wing Unidas Podemos (“United We Can,” in English, feminized in the original Spanish) which has 42 seats, and the abstention of other parties including Catalan separatist, to remain in power.
Sanchez has so far failed to strike a coalition agreement with Podemos.
The first vote on Tuesday required the acting PM to land an absolute majority. A second vote scheduled for Thursday only requires a simple majority, more yes votes than noes.
For that reason, Sanchez needs Podemos’ cooperation.
Ongoing negotiations have not been smooth-sailing, however. PSOE requested Podemos’ leader Pablo Iglesias renounce any bid to land a ministerial position, which he did.
In a speech on Monday, Sanchez urged lawmakers to act responsibly to ensure the country did not fall into a political deadlock, a familiar situation in recent years.
If he does not succeed this week, Spain could be forced to hold another election, which would be likely to take place in autumn and would be the country’s fourth in less than four years.
Sanchez, 47, first became prime minister in June 2018 after a no-confidence motion against his predecessor Mariano Rajoy following a slew of corruption scandals.
He was forced to call elections when right-wing parties and Catalan separatists blocked his State Budget.
PSOE faces opposition in the chamber in the form of the conservative Popular Party, center-right Ciudadanos and the far-right Vox.
Formerly in government, the PP was severely damaged in the 2018 snap vote.