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Spain Parliamentary Election - June 2016

On April 26, 2016 King Felipe VI decided that none of the country's political parties had enough support to form a government, setting the stage for an unprecedented repeat election in June, six months after voters ended the nation's traditional two-party system.The king's decision means that no party will be able to cobble together a minority or coalition government that would assume control of the 350-member lower house of Parliament by May 2, triggering a new election for 26 June 2016.

On 03 May 2016 King Felipe VI signed a decree to dissolve the Spanish parliament and convoke a new general election for 26 June 2016. The signature was a matter of protocol after Spain's main political parties failed to reach agreement over the formation of a coalition government, meaning parliament had to be dissolved under the terms of the Spanish Constitution. Felipe signed the decree in the presence of parliamentary speaker Patxi Lopez, meaning Spaniards are heading for the polls for the second time in just about six months following the inconclusive vote on 20 December 2015. Latest opinion polls suggest little chance in voter intentions over the past four months, but with the Spanish people tiring of political debate there could be a lower voter turnout in June -- something which traditionally favors the People's Party(PP) of Mariano Rajoy.

Campaigning started 10 June 2016, just 16 days ahead of the fresh general election in Spain. Polls predicted the elections would result in a hung parliament just like they did in December 2015, meaning political parties would have to return to the negotiation to agree on a coalition.

Left-wing Podemos (meaning "We Can") edged ahead of the Socialists (PSOE) in opinion polls, campaigning as Unidos Podemos, allied with the United Left party under communist leader Alberto Garzon. The Unidos Podemos coalition between anti-austerity group Podemos and the communist-led United Left (IU) has pursued the same strategy as the conservative Popular Party (PP), seeking to polarize voters during the campaign and ignore the Socialists. One survey conducted on May 4-22, showed the Unidos Podemos alliance would take 25.6 percent of the vote and 88 to 92 parliamentary seats in the 350-strong Spanish lower house, up from the 71 seats won by its members in December.

Polls predicted indicated that the Socialist party expected to be relegated to third place and overtaken by Unidos-Podemos, the coalition led by Iglesias. The PSOE found itself in its most difficult position since Spain returned to democracy four decades ago. The possibility of losing its position as the voice of the left in Spain was very real. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said the party has offered to form a coalition with PSOE after the election. "We need to agree with them [the PSOE] so that we can have a progressive government," he said.

Spain's repeat election on 26 June 2016 failed to clarify the political future of the country, with the main parties placing roughly the same as in last December's ballot, which brought six months of stalemate. With 97 percent of the votes officially counted on Sunday, the conservative Popular Party (PP) had won the most seats in the 350-member parliament. The party won 137 seats, up from 123 in December, but short of the 176 needed to form a government on its won. Its earlier efforts to find support from rival parties proved fruitless.

The center-left Socialist Party was in second place with 85 seats. Unidos Podemos (United We Can) - which brings together Podemos, a two-year-old party that grew out of a grassroots protest movement, and the communists and the Greens - was third with 71 seats. The caretaker prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, said his PP had won the election and therefore claimed the right to govern.

Negotiations among Spain's major parties failed again to end the seven-month political stalemate in the country. Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said July 28, 2016 his party was still opposed to a conservative government led by caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. "We want to change Rajoy's government and this is why we will vote 'no' in a confidence vote," Sanchez said after a meeting with Spain's monarch King Felipe VI. King Felipe has been in talks with major parties holding power in Spain's parliament, in hope of finding a solution to the political deadlock.

Rajoy had two routes to retaining his post. The first, and less likely, required the support of a parliamentary majority. Failing that, he could win by receiving a plurality in a second vote if enough legislators abstain. Rajoy would lose in both scenarios because most parties, including the main opposition Socialists (PSOE), had committed to actively voting against him. Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez reiterated his party would vote against a PP-led administration in an eventual parliamentary confidence vote. Without at least an abstention by the Socialists archrivals of the PP and its previous incarnations over the past four decades of democracy in Spain the conservatives will struggle to get the majority they need to allow Rajoy to govern.

The resignation of party leader Pedro Sanchez on 01 October 2016 brought conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy closer to a second term in office and heralded a difficult future for the Socialists. Sanchez announced his resignation after losing 132 to 107 in a vote among top party members. Leaders of Spain's center-left Socialist Party (PSOE) agreed on 23 October 2016 to abstain from a confidence vote in the conservative acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.Senior members of the party voted 139 in favor of abstaining in the vote, with 96 voting against. The decision to abstain would grant Rajoy a second term in office, albeit at the head of a minority government.

Center-right leader Mariano Rajoy took the oath as leader of Spain's new government on 31 October 2016, ending a 10-month impasse. After two inconclusive elections, Rajoy won a parliamentary confidence vote. Rajoy faced an unprecedented opposition to additional economic reforms that his government plans to pass during its second term in power. His best hope would be to appeal to parliament's 32 centrist Ciudadanos MPs.



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