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Spain's King Felipe asks Sanchez to form government

King Felipe VI has nominated socialist leader Pedro Sanchez to lead the country, one month after polls took place. Sanchez will now have to negotiate with other parties before forming the government.

"I am putting forward Mr. Pedro Sanchez Castejon as candidate for prime minister," King Felipe VI said in a statement read out by parliamentary speaker Patxi Lopez on Tuesday. King Felipe VI took the decision after meeting Sanchez and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party, Lopez added.

The speaker also said

the socialist leader

would need anywhere between three weeks to a month to organize support from other parties before a first parliamentary vote. A two-month deadline to form the government will come into effect once the vote takes place and a new national election will have to be held in case the parties come to no agreement.

Earlier on Tuesday, King Felipe VI met Spanish leaders to decide on who would form the government in Madrid. Prime Minister Rajoy said he spoke to the king and told him that his conservative Popular Party did not have enough backing from other groups to

establish a stable government.

The king then held a second round of meetings and nominated the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) to form a ruling coalition.

Spanien Premierminister Mariano Rajoy und Pedro Sanchez

Sanchez and Rajoy: no question of coming together

Rajoy and his Popular Party have expressed readiness to engage in a grand coalition with the PSOE and the business-friendly Ciudadanos Party, but Sanchez' party ruled out any deal with the prime minister.

The PSOE could also tie up with Ciudadanos and the far-left Podemos, two new parties who drew away support from the Socialists and the conservatives in December's elections.

Rajoy's Popular Party won only 123 seats in the 350-member lower house of the parliament, followed by the PSOE. The Podemos and the Ciudadanos upset the traditional two-party system in Spain by cashing in on voters' sentiments, upset by high unemployment, austerity and high-level corruption.

mg/ng (AFP, AP)

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