AS the party at Partido Popular’s headquarters wound down following Sunday’s election, supporters were rudely reminded by rival leaders that Mariano Rajoy cannot count on their backing in his coalition plans.
Pedro Sanchez of the PSOE, who took second place with 85 seats, and Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos, who brings 32 to the table, both openly rejected the idea of a Rajoy-led government.
A statement from the PSOE described the vote as a mandate for them to fight the PP’s “unfair, ineffective and antisocial” policies, while Sanchez showed no sign of backing down from his demands that Rajoy step aside as a condition for serious talks.
Rivera has toed the same line, his fourth-placed party more ideologically aligned with the PP but eager to showcase their anti-corruption agenda by securing a changing of the guard.
Rajoy hopes to spearhead a grand coalition which would see a large, if disunited, majority in the 350-member parliament, but instead a PP minority government vulnerable to upheaval remained the likeliest option.
Party leaders will spend the next month in negotiations before the Spanish parliament convenes for a vote of confidence in whichever leader is put forward by King Felipe following the consultations.
If that candidate fails to secure a majority of parliamentary support then a follow-up vote will be held two days later, during which members can abstain from voting to make a majority likelier.
The PSOE have suggested that they will not allow Rajoy to regain power through “action or omission”, making the prospect of a third election a distinct possibility if the current gridlock prevails.