Spain's king has begun meeting party leaders with the aim of selecting one to try to form a government and avoid a third election, but no candidate appears to have enough parliamentary backing to do so.

King Felipe VI first met Tuesday with Pedro Quevedo of the small New Canarias group. He finishes the meetings Thursday when he holds talks with the leaders of the four most popular parties, ending with acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The talks follow Spain's inconclusive election June 26, the second in seven months.

Rajoy's conservative Popular Party won most seats in both elections but fell short of a majority. Rajoy appears likely to be selected by the king but he lacks sufficient support to win an obligatory confidence vote in Parliament.