Sunday 23 October 2016

Spain's king signs decree for unprecedented new elections

Published 03/05/2016 | 04:21

Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy has been in charge on a caretaker basis
Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy has been in charge on a caretaker basis

Spain's king has signed a decree dissolving parliament and setting a new election for June 26 after legislators chosen in an inconclusive December vote failed to agree on the country's next prime minister.

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King Felipe VI signed the order in the presence of parliamentary speaker Patxi Lopez after the midnight Monday deadline for installing a new government passed. Spain has never had to repeat elections since democracy was restored in 1978.

Mr Lopez told reporters that the 350 lawmakers elected in the next election will take their parliamentary seats on July 19.

Spain has been in a political stalemate, administered by a caretaker government led by conservative Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, who is hoping for a second term as prime minister.

But newcomer parties Podemos and Ciudadanos upset the long-standing dominance of the Popular Party and Socialists in the December 20 election.

No political party won enough seats to form a government and none was able to reach a sufficiently strong coalition deal.

Polls suggest a repeat election is unlikely to break the deadlock and could mean a political impasse stretching over the summer and possibly ending with yet another election.

Mr Rajoy's party came in first in the December vote with 123 seats but lost the majority it held since 2011. Mr Rajoy told the king he was not in a position to be a candidate for premier because he lacked sufficient support.

The king then called on Pedro Sanchez of the second-placed Socialists, with 90 seats, to try.

Mr Sanchez struck a deal with centrist Ciudadanos, which had 40 seats, but was unable to convince the far-left Podemos party, which controlled 69 seats, to join him or allow him to govern by abstaining from a confidence vote.

Press Association

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