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Home News Spanish king nominates Socialist chief as PM candidate

Spanish king nominates Socialist chief as PM candidate

Published on 02/02/2016

Spain's King Felipe VI nominated Socialist party chief Pedro Sanchez as candidate to lead the country Tuesday in a bid to end a potentially damaging political deadlock, more than six weeks after inconclusive elections.

“I am putting forward Mr Pedro Sanchez Castejon as candidate for prime minister,” the king said in a statement read out by parliamentary speaker Patxi Lopez.

The country has been mired in uncertainty since December polls saw the incumbent conservative Popular Party (PP) win but without an absolute majority, leaving acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy struggling to form a government at a critical time for Spain, which is only just emerging from a crisis.

Other parties consistently refused to support the PP, which won 119 seats in parliament, citing inequalities created by drastic spending cuts Rajoy implemented during his four-year term, as well as multiple corruption scandals that hit his party.

The political deadlock eventually forced the king, who held two rounds of talks with the leaders of all parties that won representation in parliament, to nominate Sanchez instead of Rajoy.

In a press conference after the announcement, Sanchez told reporters that his Socialist party (PSOE) — which came second in the elections with 90 parliamentary seats — stood ready to drag Spain out of its current quagmire.

The 43-year-old former economics professor said he would talk to all political groupings, but “in the type of government that I am contemplating, the PP doesn’t have its place.”

Rajoy had initially wanted to form a “grand coalition” consisting of the PP, its traditional rival the PSOE and upstart centrist grouping Ciudadanos, which came in fourth place with 40 seats.

– Difficult task –

But Sanchez repeatedly rejected the idea, and he is now faced with the daunting task of trying to succeed in forming a government where Rajoy failed.

Spain’s upstart anti-austerity party Podemos, which came third in the elections with 69 seats, last month said it was open to supporting the Socialists in doing so.

But while Sanchez welcomed the proposal, he 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 the Socialists fiercely oppose.

And in any case, Sanchez had insisted all along that he would only start negotiations to form a government if the king nominated him — a move that angered Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

“I don’t understand how you can make the Spaniards wait in this way,” he said Tuesday.

The complicated parliamentary arithmetics also mean that the Socialists will almost certainly have to count on the support of Catalan nationalists that also won seats, with whom Sanchez does not want to negotiate.

In his press conference, Sanchez said it was time “to talk about what we can do in a united manner.”

He put forward a series of proposals that the Socialists want to implement, such as bettering working conditions, improving the country’s education and health systems and fighting corruption.