MADRID (Reuters) - Spain stood on the brink of a repeat election on Tuesday after the Socialists and far-left Unidas Podemos said they had made no progress in a new round of talks aimed at overcoming differences to strike a government deal.
Spain’s politics have been in limbo since an inconclusive election in April, which the Socialists won but without enough seats to govern on their own.
If parliament does not vote in Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as prime minister by Sept. 23, there will be a new parliamentary election on Nov. 10, though opinion polls show that would be unlikely to bring any more clarity.
“We see no path for reaching an agreement,” Socialist negotiator Adriana Lastra said, urging Podemos to reconsider its demand that they be made part of a coalition government.
The Socialists want Podemos to back them without being in the cabinet, which the latter refuses. Lastra said the Socialists were willing to hold new talks, but Podemos said that came with an ultimatum.
“PSOE (the Socialist Party) is not moving from its idea of having a one-party government, as if it had a full majority. If we do not accept that idea they told us there’s not going to be more meetings,” Podemos negotiator Pablo Echenique said. “For us this lead us to elections.”
The two parties have regularly been at odds as the Socialists try to put together a government, but time is now running out, barring a u-turn from one of them.
A repeat election would be the fourth in four years, with Spanish parties struggling to find ways to govern the country in an era where the decades-old dominance of two parties - the Socialists and conservative People’s Party - has been shattered by new, often populist parties.
A repeat election in Spain would see the Socialists extend their lead and PP win more seats than in April, but without giving either a majority, an opinion poll indicated on Monday.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that the Socialists and center-right Ciudadanos would have enough seats to govern the country together but both have repeatedly ruled it out.
Spanish growth has been consistently above the European average since it came out from a prolonged slump in 2013, and the economy has so far largely appeared unaffected by the country’s political problems.
Reporting by Belen Carreno; Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Angus MacSwan