Spain's Sanchez likely to fail in PM bid
By Eric Maurice
Spanish socialist leader Pedro Sanchez is struggling to get enough support from MPs to form a coalition government before two parliamentary votes this week, making a new general election more likely.
Sanchez needs the support of more than half of Spain's 350 MPs in a vote on Wednesday (2 March) to form a coalition.
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If he fails, MPs will vote again on Friday, but this time Sanchez will need only more votes in favour than those against, meaning abstentions could be crucial.
But he will face difficulties to get even that. The most likely option then would be a new general election to take place in June, after the 20 December election failed to produce a clear majority.
After signing a governing pact with the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, Sanchez has 131 seats in parliament, but he needs at least 176 votes to be invested as prime minister.
In an address to the Spanish parliament on Tuesday, Sanchez appealed for "a government of change and of dialogue".
He called on MPs to go beyond their ideological differences, saying: "Why don't we unite to form a government for change?
"Why don't we get together and pass as many reforms as possible to solve the most urgent problems of Spaniards? Why don't we vote together in favour of all issues in which we are in agreement?”
In a sign that he was trying to appeal to all sides, the three words he most used in his address were "government", "change" and "agreement".
Sanchez's appeal was aimed at the conservative Popular Party (PP) of the outgoing prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who came first in the December election but did not recruit enough partners to form a government.
Abstention from the 119 PP deputies would allow Sanchez to get through the parliament vote. But the PP has ruled out even passive support for the socialist candidate.
Sanchez was also trying to win over the radical left Podemos (We Can) party, which hold 65 seats.
"We have two options," Sanchez told MPs, appealing to Podemos' staunch opposition to the outgoing government.
"Either we do nothing and allow Rajoy to continue presiding over the interim government, or we opt for a change based on dialogue and agreements.
"There are only two options and this chamber has to decide what to do - either we stay still or we start walking."
PM 'for one day'
But Podemos, which has had shaky relations with the more established Socialist Party (PSOE), has ruled out any support for or participation in a Sanchez government since the agreement with Ciudadanos.
Podemos regards the agreement between the PSOE and Ciudadanos as too pro-austerity, as both parties attempt to woo the PP's passive support.
On Tuesday, after Sanchez's speech, Podemos deputy leader Inigo Errejon said that his party expected Sanchez to "take a decision".
Sanchez "cannot satisfy the PP and Podemos at the same time. We defend opposing projects," he said.
For Podemos, Sanchez's address was "way below expectations" and the pretender to the office of president of the Spanish government was only "playing being president for one day".