MADRID (AP) — Spain's Socialist Party failed Friday for the second time to form a government following inconclusive elections in December that fragmented the country's political system. The outcome means the country's political paralysis looks like it will be extended for months.
The Socialists lost 131-219 in the 350-member lower house of Parliament in the vote for Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez to become prime minister and lead a new government.
Political parties now have two months to try to form a government. If they fail, another national election will be held on June 26.
Sanchez got his party's 90 votes plus 40 from the new business friendly Ciudadanos party and one from a small Canary Islands party. The result gave him just one vote more than those received on Wednesday.
The conservative Popular Party, led by acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who is running a caretaker government, and the far-left newcomer Podemos party again joined forces with several small parties to deny Sanchez' attempt to take the helm.
The Popular Party came in first in the Dec. 20 election but fell far short of winning back the parliamentary majority it held from 2011 to 2015. The Socialists came in second.
Podemos and Ciudadanos took third and fourth places in their national election debuts. Both benefited from widespread voter outrage over Spain's 21 percent unemployment rate, and the unpopular austerity measures invoked by successive governments. Corruption scandals involving both the main parties that have alternated power for decades also added to the appeal of the newcomers.
Associated Press writer Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.