Spain’s king begins a new round of talks in search of a candidate to form government

MADRID (AP) — King Felipe VI on Monday began a new round of talks with Spanish political party leaders with a view to choosing the person in the best position to gather enough support in Parliament to form the country’s next government.

All signs indicate that king will call on acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to try to do so following the failure by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, head of the conservative opposition Popular Party, to win sufficient parliamentary support last week.

The meetings take place Monday and Tuesday.

Sánchez’s party finished second behind the Popular Party in July 23 elections. The elections produced a splintered parliament made up of 350 legislators from 11 parties, making the path to power difficult for any party.

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If no government is in place by Nov. 27, another national election will be held on Jan. 14.

Feijóo’s bid was rejected by a vote 177-172 on Friday. Sánchez, whose party holds 122 seats, hopes he can now persuade the legislators that voted against Feijóo to back him and capture at least the required 176 votes for a majority.

But to do this he needs to win the support of two small parties that want independence for the northeastern region of Catalonia. In exchange for their support, both parties have made potentially explosive demands for a self-determination referendum for the region and an amnesty for hundreds of people who participated in a failed 2017 Catalan secession push.

Sánchez, 51, has been Spain’s prime minister for the past five years and is the country’s acting leader until a new government is formed.

His outgoing minority coalition government delivered bold policies in such areas as women’s rights and climate change. He called July’s snap election after his party had a poor showing in local and regional elections.

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