MADRID — Spain will elect its third government in less than four years after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s fragile socialist government acknowledged Friday its support had evaporated and called an early general election.
Sanchez’s eight-month-old administration met its end after failing to get parliament’s approval for its 2019 budget proposal earlier this week, adding to the political uncertainty that has dogged Spain in recent years.
But the simple majority of Socialists, anti-austerity parties and regional nationalists that united against Rajoy crumbled in the past week after Sanchez broke off talks with the Catalan separatists over their demands for the independence of their prosperous northeastern region.
Sanchez saw the Catalan separatists join opposition lawmakers to vote down his spending plans, including social problems he had hoped would boost his party’s popularity.
Sanchez had the shortest term in power for any prime minister since Spain transitioned to democracy four decades ago.
Popular Party leader Pablo Casado celebrated what he called the “defeat” of the Socialists, attacking Sanchez for yielding to some of the Catalan separatists’ demands.
“We will be deciding (in this election) if Spain wants to remain as a hostage of the parties that want to destroy it,” or welcome the leadership of the conservatives, Casado said.
Although Sanchez’s Socialists appear to be ahead, their two main opponents — the Popular Party and the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) — could repeat their recent coalition in the southern Andalusia region, where they unseated the Socialists with the help of the far-right Vox party.
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