King prepares to meet political leaders in last bid to avert elections

Congressional speaker will hand him list of politicians ready to discuss option of one last investiture vote

King Felipe VI will meet political leaders on April 25 and 26.
King Felipe VI will meet political leaders on April 25 and 26.JAVIER SORIANO (AFP)

King Felipe VI will make one last call to Spain’s political leaders to see if there is a chance of averting a fresh general election.

It will be the third time that the Spanish monarch has met with the country’s top politicians over the issue of who will be the next prime minister.

On Thursday, congressional speaker Patxi López will hand him a list of politicians who have expressed a desire to meet with the king.

The head of state will tell the congressional speaker whether it makes sense to attempt a third investiture vote

The royal palace will then draw up an agenda of meetings due to take place on April 25 and 26. The order will depend on each party’s parliamentary representation, from highest to lowest. At each of the last two rounds, there were 14 meetings altogether.

Afterwards, the head of state will tell the congressional speaker whether it makes sense to attempt a third investiture vote, or whether new elections are the only way out of the political impasse.

So far, there is no indication that a deal is forthcoming, and there are no scheduled meetings between political leaders between now and next week.

Four months of gridlock

Following the inconclusive vote of December 20, which yielded a hung parliament, cross-party talks to build a coalition or a minority government have been fruitless.

As per Spanish legislation, the monarch met with party leaders and asked two of them to submit to a congressional vote to name a new prime minister, based on their results at the polls. The first, Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP), refused on the basis that he lacked sufficient support from other parties. The second, Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), tried and failed.

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A constitutionally mandated countdown then began that ends on May 2, when parliament will be dissolved and new elections called for June 26 – barring any eleventh-hour political deals that would require a last-minute investiture vote.

But such a deal seems highly unlikely following months of failed talks and bitter recriminations between the leaders of the PP, PSOE and the emerging Podemos and Ciudadanos. Instead, Spain seems set to hold a fresh election – a previously unseen situation in the country’s democratic history.

English version by Susana Urra.

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