Spanish caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez lost a first parliamentary confidence vote Tuesday as his first attempt to form a government failed.
Pedro Sánchez's Socialist Party won April 28 national elections, but fell short of a majority. His weeklong attempts to entice the far-left United We Can party came to nothing. Sánchez needed to get the support of 176 lawmakers in the 350-member lower house to be able to form a government. Instead, he only received the "Yes" votes of his 123 Socialist lawmakers and one member of a marginal regional party. The three right-wing parties and some smaller parties tallied 170 "No" votes, while another 52 lawmakers abstained. Four Catalan separatists who were suspended from their seats while awaiting a verdict in a rebellion trial could not vote.
The defeat was expected after Monday's parliamentary debate featured Sánchez and United We Can leader Pablo Iglesias blaming each other for not ceding enough ground to form a center-left, far-left coalition government. The focus now shifts to tomorrow, when the bar will be lower for Sánchez and he will need just more "Yes" than "No" votes.
If Sánchez fails again, then a countdown starts to Sept. 23 for lawmakers to form a government or face another election, which would be Spain's fourth in five years. Sánchez could try again during that two-month period, especially given that the parties on the right cannot reach a majority by themselves.