MADRID (AP) — King Felipe VI on Monday gave Spanish political parties more time to negotiate a way out of the near three-month political stalemate on who should form a new government.
The palace announced the decision after the monarch met with a parliamentary representative following Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez*s failure last week to muster sufficient support in the house to lead a new government. The palace said the king had decided not to call in party leaders for new consultations for the moment.
Political parties now have two months to try come up with a government or face another election June 26.
The Dec. 20 election produced a totally fragmented parliament with no party winning a majority of seats in the 350-seat chamber.
Candidates for prime minister must garner the support of a majority of lawmakers in chamber in a first round or more votes in favor than against in a second round.
Sanchez, whose party has 90 seats, says he intends continuing with his bid but in two votes last week he was only able to count on the new business-friendly Ciudadanos party*s 40 deputies and, later, one more from a small Canary Islands party.
Sanchez continues to press for new far-left group Podemos, which controls 69 seats, to support him but Podemos opposes any deal that includes Ciudadanos.
The conservative Popular Party came in first with 123 seats in the election but lost the majority it held since 2011. Party leader and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy later told the king he wasn*t in a position to be a candidate for premier as he lacked sufficient support.
But Rajoy insists his party should head a government and said Monday he would contact Sanchez again to try to clinch support for an unprecedented coalition of the country*s first and second parties. The Socialists, however, reject any pact with Rajoy.