Spain’s King Felipe is to begin a fresh round of talks with the country’s political parties in a last ditch effort to install a government and avoid a second general election in six months.
The outcome of the first, in December, produced deadlock with no party winning a majority followed by four months of failed coalition talks.
However analysts have expressed little hope that today’s talks (April 25) will be successful and say the country is edging ever closer to another general election.
The centre-left Socialist Party and liberal Ciudadanos have agreed on a programme for government but lack a parliamentary majority. Cooperation with Podemos would push them over the threshold but a meeting last week served only to demonstrate the depth of their disagreement with the far-left party.
The incumbent, centre-right Popular Party, which is governing in an interim capacity, has largely been sidelined from negotiations despite winning the most seats in December.
The talks will take place over two days (April 25 and 26).
If no government has been formed by May 2, parliament will be dissolved and elections organised, likely for June. Opinion polls suggest they would result in a similarly divided parliament.
Fragmented election outcomes and countries going weeks or months without a government aren’t unusual in Europe these days.
Irish lawmakers have failed three times to select a prime minister, leaving the country in political limbo for a record near two-month period following an inconclusive Feb 26 election that may have to be re-run soon.
Portugal also endured weeks of suspense at the end of 2015 after the winners of an October election failed to form a minority government and the losing parties joined together to create a parliamentary majority to take power.
Belgium set a European record with a massive 541 days needed to form a government following a 2010 election.