Spain looks set to hold its fourth election in as many years after acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez failed to secure enough support in parliament to form a government, despite months of negotiations.
On Tuesday, Sanchez announced that Spain would go to the polls on November 10, less than seven months after the April general election which proved inconclusive.
“There is no majority in congress that guarantees the formation of a government,” said Sanchez, whose socialist PSOE party gained the most seats earlier this year but fell short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament.
Blaming opposition parties for the political deadlock, Sanchez added: “I’ve done all I can, but they’ve made it impossible.”
Spain’s traditional two-party system has fragmented in recent years, with both the PSOE and the right-wing People’s Party (PP) coming under pressure following the 2008 financial crisis and a series of corruption scandals.
The emergence of the left-wing Unidos Podemos (UP) and the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, and the growth of far-right party Vox, has shaken up the established political order. A number of groups representing Spain’s autonomous regions, such as Catalonia and the Basque Country have also risen in prominence.
Following two days of consultations with party leaders, Spain’s King Felipe announced on Tuesday that he would not be putting forward a candidate to stand as Prime Minister as there was not the “necessary support” in the Chamber of Deputies for a new government.
Unless there is a last-ditch deal, parliament is likely to be dissolved next week.
Spain is the only western European country never to have been governed by a coalition – though in recent years, several minority governments have been shored up by parliamentary alliances.
But with a number of polarizing issues in play this time around, forming a government has been difficult.
Talks between the PSOE and the Citizens party broke down with both sides blaming each other for the impasse.
According to Spain’s El Pais newspaper, the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, insisted his party had been “coherent, responsible and open to dialogue.”
Sanchez was forced to call a snap general election in April after parliament rejected his minority government’s 2019 budget.
The current political crisis is the worst the country has faced since the restoration of democracy in the late 1970s. It is tied to the issue of Catalan independence, which boiled over in 2017 when separatist leaders triggered a standoff with the government after attempting to push forward with the region’s secession.
Experts say the Catalan independence question has sparked a resurgence in Spanish nationalism, and has been key to the growth of the far-right Vox party.
While the Socialist party has won votes in urban areas thanks to progressive reforms on women’s and LGBT rights, the pace of change has also led to a backlash in other places.
CNN’s Jack Guy contributed to this report.