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Spain’s King Felipe commences talks with parties ahead of possible investiture bid

Archive photo by Jacob King/PA Wire.

Spain’s King Felipe VI has commenced the round of meetings with the country’s political parties before deciding whether to ask one of them to form government.

The meetings come after an inconclusive result in July’s general election left no clear bloc able to easily form a new administration.

Representatives from seven parties began their round of meetings with the king on Monday, with more discussions due today.

The parties include UPN, Coalición Canaria, PNV, Sumar, Vox, PSOE, and PP.

After this, and in line with Spain’s constitution, the monarch will decide whether to assign a candidate to make a bid for investiture in the Congress, and whom.

This key step has already proved controversial even before the talks commenced.

The PP argues that the king should ask its leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to seek investiture having won the elections.

But the Socialists say that decision would be a "waste of time" as the PP leader would likely fail to secure sufficient votes in the parliament to succeed and be sworn in as prime minister.

If he is given the chance to try, however, the decision would trigger a two-month countdown in which an investiture must succeed before new elections are automatically called under the terms of the constitution.

These would be held 47 days after those two months end.

King Felipe VI will not announce his decision until at least Tuesday afternoon and may yet decide to hold fire and discuss further with political parties.

Regional independence parties ERC, Junts, EH Bildu, and BNG have excluded themselves from the Zarzuela hearings to propose a government presidency candidate.

If the king takes a decision on Tuesday — he might take a few days to reflect or redo the consultation round — the investiture session could be held in the last week of August, according to Spanish media reporting of the process.

The PP said Mr Feijóo should have the right to form government because the PP won at the polls in July, even though it fell short of enough seats, even with the support of the far-right party Vox.

The PP won the election with 136 seats in Congress compared to 122 seats for the PSOE, which came second.

The PP had been widely predicted by polls to obtain sufficient seats to reach the 176-seat majority threshold alongside Vox.

But Vox lost 19 seats to end up with 33 MPs, while the PP’s performance – albeit strong and up 47 MPs – did not meet the party’s expectations.

Conversely, the PSOE performed much better than expected, opening the door for Mr Sanchez to try and stitch together a coalition of smaller parties to secure the backing to form government.

Mr Sanchez’ hopes were bolstered last week after the PSOE secured the support of Catalan nationalists to help win the first key parliamentary vote since July’s inconclusive general election.

Spain's Congress elected Socialist Francina Armengol, 52, as its speaker with the backing of other parties whose votes would be needed to form a Socialist-led coalition government.

All of the left and all the Catalan, Basque, and Galician nationalist groups supported Ms Armengol, who was the president of the Balearic Islands until May.

The support included backing from Junts per Catalunya, whose votes would be vital in any coalition government led by Mr Sanchez.

But the agreement on the Socialist speaker does not automatically imply backing for a Sánchez-led government.
On Monday, after meeting the king, the spokesman for Basque party PNV, Aitor Esteban, expressed serious doubts as to whether the king should propose a candidate for the top job in government.

In an interview on Cadena SER, he said: “This is a hastily convened round [because] we haven't even started talking about that [the investiture].”

He also did not rule out the need for further talks with the monarch because, as of Monday, no candidate had enough support.

And after meeting with the king, Javier Esparza, president of UPN, said he would prefer a repeat election over a "PSOE government with [Basque nationalists] Bildu”.

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