King wraps up talks to drag Spain out of political deadlock
King Felipe VI wrapped up a second round of talks with party leaders Tuesday aimed at dragging Spain out of political deadlock more than six weeks after inconclusive elections.
The country has been mired in uncertainty since December elections saw the incumbent conservative Popular Party (PP) win but without an absolute majority, leaving acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggling to form a government as other parties refuse to support him.
Rajoy would like to form a “grand coalition” consisting of his party, its rival Socialists (PSOE) which came second in the elections, and upstart centrist grouping Ciudadanos, which arrived in fourth place.
But PSOE chief Pedro Sanchez has repeatedly rejected the idea.
After meeting the king earlier Tuesday, Sanchez said he had told the monarch he was willing to attempt what Rajoy has so far failed to do.
“I told the king that the Socialist party is willing… to try and form a government and drag Spanish democracy and institutions out of this deadlock,” he told reporters in Madrid.
Sanchez stressed he was willing to speak to all political parties on the left and on the right, to create a “progressive” government.
Spain’s upstart anti-austerity party Podemos, which came third in the elections on December 20, has proposed forming a government with the Socialists.
But while Sanchez has welcomed the proposal, he has said the two parties need to first reach an agreement on a programme.
The formation of such a left-wing coalition government has been complicated by Podemos’ backing for an independence referendum in the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, which Sanchez fiercely opposes.
The king was due to meet Rajoy on Tuesday afternoon, after which he will make a decision on whether to nominate a candidate for prime minister, or leave parties more time to strike a deal.