King Felipe VI will on Monday begin the third and last round of talks with Spanish politicians to determine whether there is a last-minute chance to form a government, or whether new elections have to be called.
Efforts by parties to reach governing deals following the inconclusive elections of December 20 have proven fruitless, and the deadline for the dissolution of parliament is May 2.
The Spanish monarch will see eight political leaders on Monday, out of a total of 14 who are penciled in to discuss the political situation with him.
Podemos and its regional associates also seem more interested in holding new elections
But it is unlikely that the meetings will yield any surprises. The three best-performing groups at the last election – the Popular Party (PP), Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos, who will all see Felipe VI on Tuesday – seem unwilling to make any more efforts to craft alliances following the failure of their recent attempts.
The PP, which earned the most seats (123, but far from the 176 required for an overall majority), is politically isolated and has failed to attract a single vote of confidence from the opposition. Its strategy from the beginning has been a passive one: it is simply waiting for a new election that, polls suggest, would bring the PP added representation in parliament.
The PSOE managed an alliance with the emerging group Ciudadanos, but their combined seats are not enough for a majority and other parties refuse to lend their weight to the project. Socialist leaders refuse to associate themselves with the PP and its corrupt image, and balk at the idea of a deal with Podemos, whose program includes greater public spending and a self-determination referendum for Catalonia, among other incompatibilities. It is unclear whether a new vote would benefit the party.
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Meanwhile, Podemos and its regional associates also seem more interested in holding new elections and are toying with the idea of running in tandem with the United Left. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias had initially made overtures to the Socialist Party, but his demand to be made deputy prime minister and to receive several specific ministerial portfolios cooled relations between himself and PSOE chief Pedro Sánchez. Iglesias also refuses to enter into any alliance that includes Spain’s other emerging party, Ciudadanos, even though both started out with a similar message of change against the political establishment.
Ciudadanos has emerged in its supporters' view as the party that has made the greatest efforts to save voters from a new election by offering to mediate between the PP and PSOE, and by entering into an alliance with the latter. Although the reform party has a weak structure outside the big cities, surveys suggest that it could do well at a new election, which would be held on June 26.
English version by Susana Urra.