Major Spanish parties reject Socialist govt bid

AP News
Posted: Mar 02, 2016 8:01 AM
Major Spanish parties reject Socialist govt bid

MADRID (AP) — Two parties commanding 192 seats in Spain's 350-seat parliament confirmed Wednesday they will vote against Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez's candidacy to form a new government, effectively sinking his chances, at least in the first round.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party told a session debating the candidacy that Sanchez's government plans were a joke and reiterated that his party's 123 deputies would vote against him.

Pablo Iglesias, of the far-left newcomer Podemos group that has 69 seats, said his lawmakers too would be voting against Sanchez because the Socialists did not appear set to lead a genuine leftist government.

Sanchez needs a majority of votes in the 350-seat parliament in the vote late Wednesday to succeed.

But the Socialists, who won 90 seats in the Dec. 20 election, have only the support of centrist newcomer Ciudadanos, which has 40.

Sanchez has been pushing to get Podemos on board but the leftist group has demanded that the Socialists break first with Ciudadanos, which it considers too far right.

Sanchez has another chance Friday in a second round when he needs only more votes in favor than against, but there is little to indicate he will win that one either.

The Popular Party, which has run the country since 2011, came in first in the election, but lost the strong majority it had in parliament mainly on account of voter disillusionment with their anti-crisis austerity measures and links to myriad corruption scandals.

Rajoy, who now presides over a caretaker government, said he could not form a government because he lacked sufficient support.

If Sanchez fails to win either vote, Parliament has two months to try to choose a government or face new elections June 26.

A governing alliance of parties excluding the first-place winner has never happened nationally in Spain.