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Spain's Sanchez rebuffs conservative government offer

August 30, 2023

Conservative leader Nunez Feijoo had asked the Socialist Sanchez to back his government formation for two years. Spain faces the threat of remaining in political deadlock, since the July general election.

People's Party (PP) President Alberto Nunez Feijoo (R) shakes hands with Spanish acting Prime Minister and Socialist Party (PSOE) Secretary General Pedro Sanchez prior to holding a meeting at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid, on August 30, 2023.
Feijoo and Sanchez met for discussions ahead of the investitureImage: Thomas Coex/AFP

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists on Wednesday dismissed the conservative Popular Party's bid to form a government as "doomed."

A conversation between Spain's conservative and socialist leaders on Wednesday yielded no compromises.

Conservative leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo's People's Party (PP) won most seats in the July 23 general election. However, it struggles with putting together a coalition to serve as a working majority in the lower house.

Feijoo and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez held a meeting to try to iron out disagreements. It was his first meeting with leaders of other parties ahead of an investiture scheduled for September 27.

King Felipe tasked Feijoo last week with forming the new government. Sanchez has meanwhile also expressed his intention to seek a vote in the lower house to stay as prime minister.

Spain faces political deadlock: Jan-Philipp Scholz reports

If neither candidate manages to form a coalition that secures a majority within two months of the first investiture vote, new elections would have to be called and likely held at the end of the year.

What happened in the meeting?

Feijoo asked Sanchez to support him for at least two years of the Spanish four-year legislature, in exchange for political pacts that could then be extended.

"Unfortunately, what I have obtained, as far as I understood, is a no," Feijoo told reporters.

While Sanchez did not immediately comment, Socialist Party spokesperson Pilar Alegria dismissed the possibility of supporting Feijoo's premiership bid.

"What Mr. Feijoo has is a majority against his investiture," Alegria, who is also acting education minister, told reporters. "When he fails and we know he will, we'll work, propose and win the investiture."

 "Feijoo's investiture is doomed to failure," she added.

What happened in the general election?

While the Socialists finished second in the polls, the party is considered to be in a better position as it has more prospective partners.

Earlier in August, Spanish lawmakers elected Francina Armengol, an ally of the caretaker prime minister, as speaker of Spain's parliament.

Armengol is the former leader of the Balearic Islands region, where Catalan is widely spoken. She received a majority of 178 votes in the 350-seat chamber.

Sanchez hopes he can also use the Catalan separatist parties' support in an investiture vote to form a new government.

Feijoo, on the other hand, needs the support of smaller regional parties, but even with the backing of the far-right Vox party who only won 33 seats, the PP will fall short of the 176 votes candidates need in the lower house.

Spain thrust into political muddle after elections

rmt/jcg (EFE, Reuters)