MADRID – Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is expected to call a snap general election following a cabinet meeting on Friday morning, after parliament rejected his 2019 budget this week in a stinging blow to his minority government.
The prime minister’s office said he would address the press at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT), after the meeting.
Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero confirmed on Thursday that there would be elections following Wednesday’s budget defeat, but told COPE radio the date had not yet been set.
On Wednesday, Spain’s parliament rejected a draft 2019 budget. The after Catalan separatists withdrew their to the government. As a result, Spain shall see an early national election. The political landscape becoming increasingly fragmented. Spain has now decisively replaced over 30 years of two-party dominance. The focus this time is on the divisive issue of Catalan independence.
The PM would call a snap election if the draft was rejected, with April 14 or April 28 the most likely dates.
Sanchez wanted an election as soon as possible, to move away from the budget defeat and mobilise left-leaning voters following a large protest in Madrid on Sunday against Sanchez’s efforts to ease tensions with Catalan separatists.
Recent opinion polls have shown that no single party would emerge with a comfortable majority on its own. Socialists used to be ahead but that is history now. The conservatives, Ciudadanos and Vox may together somehow manage a majority.
While the Socialists currently lead, polls show they and anti-austerity party Podemos would not win majority together, leaving open the question whether the centre-right Ciudadanos party would align with them or join a grouping of the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox party.
Sanchez took office last June after the previous People’s Party government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy – unpopular after years of anti-austerity programs and plagued by a corruption scandal – was ousted in a no-confidence vote. But the with less than a quarter of seats in parliament, the Socialists have relied on regional and smaller parties to govern.
Sanchez was thrown against the ropes this week when Catalans who have previously supported his government deserted to help defeat the draft fiscal bill.
Two small Catalan pro-independence parties, on whose votes the government has been relying to pass legislation, have regularly maintained their blanket rejection of the budget.
They said they were open to negotiate until the budget vote if the government promised them a dialogue on the right to self-determination, but that right is prohibited by the Spanish constitution.
The government and Socialist party sources revealed that the snap election date had not been decided. April 14 was most likely, followed by April 28. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wants a ballot as soon as possible to garner support from left-leaning voters against the chances of the right winning the elections.