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Spain's Socialist leader loses first vote to become prime minister

Sanchez said he will "continue to trust in dialogue and agreement" ahead of a second vote on his candidacy. Spain's caretaker prime minister has described the Socialist leader's plans to form a government as a joke.

Pedro Sanchez, leader of the Socialist party, on Wednesday lost a parliamentary vote to become the Spain's new prime minister following inconclusive elections in December.

The Socialist leader garnered 130 votes in favor of his candidacy, but was defeated by 219 votes against and one abstention. He needed 176 votes to win.

Sanchez received support from his political party and business-friendly upstart Ciudadanos.

Spain's caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP), which has run the country since 2011, previously stated he did not have sufficient support to form a coalition government and declined attempts to form an alliance when requested to so by the Spanish king.

During a debate of Sanchez's candidacy, Rajoy told parliamentarians on Wednesday that the Socialist leader's plans were a joke, adding that his 123 deputies would vote against him for the role of prime minister.

The leader of anti-austerity newcomer Podemos said his lawmakers would also vote against Sanchez since they did not believe he would go through with leftist policies, which are key to the upstart's constituents.

"I will continue to trust in dialogue and agreement for a government of change that will enrich the lives of all Spaniards," Sanchez said in a tweet following the vote.

Sanchez has another shot of becoming prime minister in a second vote expected to take place on Friday, in which he only needs more votes in his favor than against him.

ls/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)