Pedro Sanchez of PSOE. His party saw its number of seats in Congress fall. | Susana Vera


Spain’s centre-right Partido Popular (PP) came first in a general election, but acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fell short of a majority for the second time in six months and will face arduous talks to reach a form of government. All other parties fell or were stable. With no easy coalition in sight, talks to reach a majority could take weeks. The constitution does not set a deadline for the process.

Following are the major issues and scenarios which will determine who becomes Spain’s next premier:

Once the new parliament and senate are operational from 19 July onwards, it will be up to King Felipe to nominate a candidate to become prime minister though he would normally wait until the parties can agree on a nominee.

If the candidate fails to secure an absolute majority on the floor of the 350-seat lower house - at least 176 votes - then a second vote is held 48 hours later. At the second vote, the candidate only needs a simple majority of votes cast. With abstentions, the required majority would therefore be lower. If the candidate still falls short, the King must put forward another one.

If no candidate can assemble a majority within two months of the first vote, new elections must be held. Until December’s inconclusive ballot, a parliamentary majority had always been secured within one to two months in all general elections held since 1977. If none is forthcoming this time, new elections may again be in the offing.