MADRID (AP) — The leader of Spain's opposition Socialists said Wednesday he will not support any effort by acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to stay on in his post via a coalition or minority government.
Pedro Sanchez made the declaration to reporters after meeting with Rajoy, who is trying to negotiate a way for him and his center-right Popular Party to remain in power after it won the most votes in a national election Sunday but fell far short of a parliamentary majority.
Rajoy did not comment after the two met at the presidential palace. The splintered vote that marked the end of three decades of two-party domination in Spain gave Rajoy's party 123 seats in the 350-member lower house of parliament, down from the 186 it won in 2011. The Socialists got 90 seats, followed by the far-left Podemos and allies with 69 and the business-friendly Ciudadanos with 40.
Sanchez reiterated that it's up to the Popular Party to first try to form a government because it got the most votes. He didn't say whether the Socialists would support the Popular Party if Rajoy steps down, but Spain has never had a "grand coalition" of its two main parties.
Analysts predict weeks or months of uncertainty before the country has a functioning government led by the Popular Party or the Socialist Party — or a new election in the spring if neither party succeeds.
Rajoy in January faces a parliamentary vote on whether he can reassume his position as the leader of the government. In the first vote, he would need more than 50 percent to form a government. If he falls short, he must get more votes for him than against him in a second ballot 48 hours later.
That's a lower bar allowing parties to abstain, letting a rival into power in return for concessions. Ciudadanos has already said it will abstain, but Sanchez ruled that out for his Socialists.
If there is still a deadlock after two months, King Felipe VI will call a new election.