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Key dates in three years of political instability in Spain

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday called a snap poll for April 28 — the country’s third general election in three and a half years.

Spain has since December 2015 been suffering chronic political stability because of an increasingly fragmented political landscape.

Here are some key dates:

– December 20, 2015: Two-party hegemony shatters –

Since the early 1980s, power in Spain had alternated without interruption between the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party (PP). But December 20, 2015 put an end to over three decades of two-party hegemony when two new parties, centre-right Ciudadanos and far-left Podemos, entered parliament for the first time.

Prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s PP won the most seats but lost its absolute majority in Spain’s 350-seat parliament and was not able to cobble together a governing coalition.

Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists, which came in second but also lost ground, reached an agreement with Ciudadanos but this too was not enough to form a government.

Due to the political impasse, fresh elections were held on June 26, 2016. The PP gained ground but still fell short of an absolute majority and political paralysis persisted.

– October 29, 2016: Rajoy sworn in for second term –

Rajoy is sworn in for a second term as prime minister after winning a confidence vote in parliament, putting an end to a 10-month spell without a government.

He won the vote thanks to the support of Ciudadanos and the abstention of the Socialists. Weeks earlier, the Socialists ousted their leader Pedro Sanchez who had steadfastly refused to back Rajoy’s attempts to form a government.

Rajoy’s minority government managed to pass its budget in 2017 and 2018 by making generous concessions to a Basque nationalist party and regional parties from Spain’s Canary Islands.

– June 1, 2018: Sanchez ousts Rajoy –

Sanchez becomes prime minister, ousting Rajoy in a surprise no-confidence vote in parliament after the ruling PP was found guilty of benefiting from illegal funds in a massive graft trial.

Sanchez had been re-elected Socialist leader in May 2017, in a stunning political comeback just seven months after he was ousted.

Rajoy was the first prime minister in Spain’s modern democratic history to be ousted by parliament after losing a no-confidence vote.

Sanchez won the vote with the support of a hodgepodge of different formations, including Podemos, two Catalan separatist parties and a Basque nationalist party.

Ciudadanos leader Abert Rivera labelled it a “Frankenstein government” because of its lack of unifying views.

– February 13, 2019: Sanchez budget rejected –

Sanchez, whose government had the smallest majority of any since the return transition to democracy following dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, submits a left-leaning budget with Podemos which boosts social spending, in the hopes of governing until the end of the current legislature in mid-2020.

But the talks with Catalan separatist parties, whose demand for a legally binding independence referendum is unacceptable to Sanchez, broke down and he fails to win their much-needed votes to approve the budget in parliament.

Catalan lawmakers on Wednesday joined those from the PP and Ciudadanos in voting against the budget, prompting Sanchez on Friday to call early elections.

Opinion polls suggest Spain’s political landscape will become even more fragmented, with new far-right party Vox poised to win seats in the national parliament for the first time.