Europe

Spain's Socialists vote in leadership battle

  • Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez looks down as he gives an statement during an appearance before the press in the party headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Friday Sept. 30, 2016.  A growing leadership battle has been raging within Spain's main opposition Socialist party and has threatened to tear the 137-year-old organization apart and hurl the country toward an unprecedented third election in a year.  The party will hold a crucial federal committee on Saturday  that may be unable to resolve the schism between those for and against leader Pedro Sanchez. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

    Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez looks down as he gives an statement during an appearance before the press in the party headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Friday Sept. 30, 2016. A growing leadership battle has been raging within Spain's main opposition Socialist party and has threatened to tear the 137-year-old organization apart and hurl the country toward an unprecedented third election in a year. The party will hold a crucial federal committee on Saturday that may be unable to resolve the schism between those for and against leader Pedro Sanchez. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)  (The Associated Press)

  • Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez gestures as he gives an statement during an appearance before the press in the party headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Friday Sept. 30, 2016.  A growing leadership battle has been raging within Spain's main opposition Socialist party and has threatened to tear the 137-year-old organization apart and hurl the country toward an unprecedented third election in a year.  The party will hold a crucial federal committee on Saturday  that may be unable to resolve the schism between those for and against leader Pedro Sanchez. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

    Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez gestures as he gives an statement during an appearance before the press in the party headquarters in Madrid, Spain, Friday Sept. 30, 2016. A growing leadership battle has been raging within Spain's main opposition Socialist party and has threatened to tear the 137-year-old organization apart and hurl the country toward an unprecedented third election in a year. The party will hold a crucial federal committee on Saturday that may be unable to resolve the schism between those for and against leader Pedro Sanchez. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)  (The Associated Press)

Spain's Socialist Party is facing strong internal discord as they vote to decide if they will keep or oust their leader Pedro Sanchez, who has been leading opposition to acting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's efforts to build a minority government and end a nine-month political deadlock.

Sanchez insists he will continue blocking Rajoy. If he preserves his leadership in Saturday's vote by party members, Spain will be unable to form a government by Oct. 31 and a new round of elections will be called on Christmas day.

If his opponents win, a new party leadership might abstain from blocking Rajoy, resulting in an end of the deadlock.