Spain's King Felipe VI is putting off a March state visit to Britain because of difficult negotiations among his country's political parties to form a new government following inconclusive December election results.

The foreign ministry announced the decision Thursday, two days after Felipe asked Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez to try to form a government in negotiations that Sanchez predicted could last a month.

Sanchez' party came second in the election. He must negotiate with two new upstart parties that made big inroads with voters upset at austerity, high unemployment and corruption.

His effort started after the party of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy won the most votes Dec. 20 but failed to form a government.

Felipe and Queen Letizia were invited by Queen Elizabeth II for the March 8-10 visit.