Forty-eight hours after Pedro Sánchez, the general secretary of PSOE, failed to gain an absolute majority of Congress members in support of his investiture as prime minister, the 350 members reassembled at 6.30 this evening to try again. The result was almost exactly the same. 219 votes against, but 131 in favour: PSOE and Ciudadanos had gained the support of the one vote of the Coalición Canaria.
In another at times bad-tempered session, Sánchez made a plea for an end to corruption and to Pablo Iglesias of Podemos to not betray Podemos voters by declining the possibility of supporting a progressive government of change.
Acting premier, Mariano Rajoy, struck back at Sánchez, describing his attempt to form a government as a fraud and a deceit. The corruption was that of Sánchez for having attempted this. (Something which drew great applause from the PP members.)
Pablo Iglesias of Podemos, relaxed and amusing, sought to make amends for the insults of Wednesday but declined to give Sánchez his support or that of Podemos, but he held out an olive branch for negotiations that will not have to take place.
Since the first vote on Wednesday, PSOE had been making overtures to Podemos to at least attempt to get the 69 members from Podemos itself as well as its affiliates to abstain. With a simple majority required for the second vote, abstention en bloc would have secured the premiership for Sánchez.
The PSOE approach to Podemos set out no less than 140 measures for government. These covered a range of issues related to social policies, democratic regeneration and the recovery of rights. They were already in the pact agreement with Ciudadanos (C's) but also included ones that had at one stage been agreed with smaller parties on the left. The main plea from PSOE, however, seemed to be one to Podemos to prevent Mariano Rajoy and the Partido Popular being given any hope of remaining in government.
As the investiture has failed for the second time, the speaker of Congress, Patxi López, is obliged to inform the King that it has failed, meaning that the King will now seek further discussions with party leaders to see if a new candidate can emerge to be prime minister (which could still be Sánchez). There are two months set aside for this latest attempt. If investiture still proves impossible, a new election will have to be called, probably on 26 June.
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