Spain’s acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy has failed in a second attempt to win parliament’s backing to form a government, plunging the country into uncertainty.
Voters now face the prospect of a third election in a year if no deal can be brokered in the next two months.
The parliament rejected his candidacy by the same margin of 180 votes against him as a first vote on Wednesday, after he failed to persuade the Socialists to abstain.
In a speeches ahead of the vote both sides accused one another of prolonging the deadlock. Rajoy warned that leaving the country without a government has costs, adding that it will be Spaniards who footed the bill.
The stalemate threatens to dent Spain’s three-year economic rebound, and the country must draw up a fiscal plan for the European Commission by mid-October.
Spain has been left without a government since December’s inconclusive elections, with new parties Podemos and Cuidadanos taking millions of votes from the establishment parties.