Spain’s conservative leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo has failed to secure enough support from parliament to form a government, after losing a second and final vote on Friday. His defeat cleared the way for the Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to try to form a coalition with other parties.
Feijóo, the leader of the People’s Party (PP), had won the most seats in July’s snap election but fell short of a majority in the 350-seat congress. He needed 176 votes to win the confidence of parliament but only managed to get 172, with 177 lawmakers voting against him and one null vote.
Feijóo had hoped to persuade some of the smaller parties, such as the liberal Ciudadanos and the regional nationalists, to back his bid or at least abstain. However, he faced strong opposition from the left-wing parties, such as Podemos and Más País, as well as the Catalan and Basque separatists, who accused him of undermining the country’s democratic institutions and social rights.
Feijóo also failed to win over Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), who had come second in the election with 120 seats. Sánchez rejected Feijóo’s offer of a grand coalition, saying that he would not support a government that would take Spain backward.
Sánchez now has the opportunity to try to form a government of his own, with the king’s backing. He will need to negotiate with other parties, especially the Catalan pro-independence parties, who have demanded an amnesty for their exiled or jailed leaders and a referendum on self-determination.
Sánchez has until November 27 to secure enough support from parliament. If he fails, Spain will face another election in January, its sixth in nine years.