MADRID (AP) – Spain's opposition Socialist leader is vowing that his party will vote against conservative Mariano Rajoy's bid to form a government Wednesday — a move that will likely torpedo chances of breaking Spain's political deadlock anytime soon.
In a first investiture vote following a two-day parliamentary debate, Rajoy, the acting prime minister, needs an absolute majority in the 350-seat Parliament. He currently stands six votes short, having only his party's 137 lawmakers and the backing of 33 others.
If Rajoy loses Wednesday, he has a second chance Friday when he only needs more votes in favor than against. Still, all signs indicate he won't pass that test either as no other party appears willing to back him.
If no government is in place in two months after Wednesday's first vote, parliament will be dissolved again and Spain would have to hold its third election in a year. That vote could even come on Dec. 25, Christmas Day.
In the debate, Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez lashed out at Rajoy's record in government since 2011, saying his party could never support those they blame for high unemployment, political corruption and recent severe cuts in national health care and education.
"Spain needs a government, but not a bad one," said Sánchez.
Rajoy, who has been running a caretaker government following inconclusive elections in December and then again in June, opened the debate Tuesday, saying that Spain needed a government urgently.
On Wednesday, he warned that Sánchez "may go down in history for forcing elections to be repeated a third time."
Rajoy of the Popular Party has said he intends to keep mustering support over the next two months to avoid a third election.
The December and June elections saw the rise of two new groups — the far-left Unidos Podemos alliance, which came in third, and the fourth-place business friendly Ciudadanos party. That development effectively ended Spain's traditional two-party political system of the Popular Party and the Socialists. Spain has never had a coalition government and the country's political elite are struggling with the concept.