Spain's deeply fragmented parliament will vote on whether to confirm Pedro Sanchez as prime minister on July 23, a date he picked despite still lacking majority support in a decision that could lead to a snap election.
Sanchez's Socialists won a national election in April without securing a majority, and have since struggled to forge a deal with left-wing Podemos, which has been seeking cabinet posts in return for supporting him.
Members of parliament must deliver Sanchez an absolute majority for him to win in the first round of voting. With the Socialists and Podemos together 12 seats short of a majority in the 350-seat house, he is not expected to achieve that.
He would then require a simple majority in a second round to be held within 48 hours - for which Sanchez would need the backing, or at least abstention, of small regional parties, including Catalan separatists.
Parliament speaker Meritxell Batet, a Socialist, said the debate would begin on July 22 with a speech by Sanchez, and conclude the following day «with a clear objective ... for the investiture to succeed."
"It's that and giving the candidate a few more days to talk to the parliamentary groups and secure his confirmation and the formation of a government,» she told reporters.
Failure in the second vote would trigger a countdown until mid-September for Sanchez to attempt other parliamentary votes before being forced to call a new national election in November.
A stalemate after inconclusive elections in late 2015 led to a repeat election in 2016 and a weak conservative government that was ousted by Sanchez two years later.