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No early elections in Spain, says Sanchez

Spain's Socialist (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez listens to Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy during a motion of no confidence debate at Parliament in Madrid, Spain, May 31, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Spain's new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said this week he was unlikely to call a snap election and that he wanted to hold the next countrywide vote in 2020 when the current term is scheduled to end.

Mr Sanchez, who toppled his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy last month in a confidence vote, controls less than a quarter of the seats in the parliament and he had been until now widely expected to call a general election in the next months.

"My ambition is to go until the end of the term and call the next election in 2020," Mr Sanchez told Spain's public broadcaster TVE in his first interview since he was sworn in.

From appointing a cabinet with a majority of women to taking in drifting migrant ship Aquarius or raising public pensions in line with inflation, Mr Sanchez has announced high-profile measures to cement his power and lure left-wing voters.

He also said on Monday he would soon meet the head of the restive Catalonia region and was in favour of bringing Catalan politicians who are currently in jail for their role in an illegal independence drive closer to home.

In a separate development, Spain’s new Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell, told the Financial Times he had “not had the time to think about” his own views on Gibraltar’s post-Brexit relationship with Spain.

In a wide-ranging interview with the FT and other international media, he said that alongside trade wars, migration and the repercussions of Brexit, he wanted to tackle the ‘leyenda negra’ – or ‘black legend’ – that Spain is a backwards and authoritarian country.

He believes that view of Spain has increased since the Catalan independence crisis last year.

“In [international] public opinion and among intellectuals today, the narrative of the separatists has been widely accepted, and Spain has been presented as if [the 16th century king] Felipe II has come back again, or [General] Franco has come back,” he told the FT.

“This is probably one of the reasons why I decided to take on the responsibility of becoming a minister?.?.?.?I think that Spain has to do a better job explaining what is happening in Catalonia and in the country,” he said.

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