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Spanish PM Rajoy turns down bid to form new government

Spanish PM Rajoy has declined an offer to build a new government. Rajoy has struggled to gain political support, with many parties saying they would vote against him in a vote of confidence.

Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected King Felipe VI's offer to be the first candidate to become the next prime minister on Friday.

"His Majesty the King nominated him to form a government. Mr. Mariano Rajoy thanked His Majesty the King but declined the offer," a statement from the palace said, one month after inconclusive elections led to a hung parliament.

According to reports from Reuters, Rajoy said that he was still in the running to be the next prime minister but that he was not in a position to seek a vote of confidence from parliament.

"I am still candidate but I can't present myself now, because

I don't have the support

that is needed," Rajoy told a news conference after his meeting with King Felipe.

Rajoy's conservative People's Party (PP) won the most seats (123) in December's parliamentary election, but was far from an absolute majority in the 350-seat legislature. His attempt to form a Germanesque "grand coalition" with the Socialist party (PSOE) and the Ciudadanos (Citizens) party failed when

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez chose not to support him.
Spanien König Felipe mit Pablo Iglesias Parteichef Podemos

The leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, (right) informed King Felipe VI (left) on Friday about a possible left-wing coalition with the Socialists

Next steps for Spain

King Felipe VI announced on Friday that he will be holding new talks with political party leaders starting next Wednesday. The king is most likely to call on opposition Socialist leader Sanchez to form a new government.

Earlier on Friday, the radical leftist Podemos party (which took 69 seats)

offered to form a "progressive" coalition government

which would be led by the Socialists (who received 90) and include the United Left party (which gained 2 seats). Sanchez welcomed the offer, but said Rajoy should have a chance at the confidence vote.

The royally nominated candidate must win a vote of confidence in parliament in order to assume power. If no party leader wins the support of parliament within two months following the first vote, new elections must be called.

Spain's December election resulted in the country's most fragmented parliament in decades. It also signified an end to the alternating power struggle between the PP and the Socialists. Big parliamentary wins for new parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos sent a clear signal from the Spanish people -

that it is time for a change.

rs/kms (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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