Spain's caretaker prime minister will face important parliamentary votes this week that will either endorse his Socialist Party to form a new government, or push the country closer to a possible fourth general election in five years and even more political instability.
Pedro Sánchez will have two opportunities to win the support of the members of parliament's lower house, but he enters the week without assurances that he has the votes. The Socialists are working against the clock to strike a last-minute deal with the far-left United We Can that would bring the anti-austerity party into Spain's first coalition government since the restoration of democracy more than four decades ago. Yet even with United We Can on board, Sánchez will still need the help of some smaller parties. A failure by Sánchez would start a two-month countdown for a new government to be formed. After that, Parliament would automatically be dissolved and a new election called.
Many in Spain argue that the country can ill afford not having a stable government in place before the verdict of the Catalan secession trial that is expected i
n the fall, possibly in September. A heavy punishment for the 12 leaders of the 2017 Catalan breakaway attempt would likely fire up tensions with the separatists, who still hold power in the regional government in Spain's wealthy northeastern corner.