Spain's king nominates Popular Party candidate to form government

Spain's king nominates Popular Party candidate to form government

Felipe VI says he chose Alberto Nunez Feijoo because he won more votes in election

By Alyssa McMurtry

OVIEDO, Spain (AA) - Spain’s King Felipe VI announced late Tuesday that he was nominating Popular Party candidate Alberto Nunez Feijoo to try to form a government.

The king was faced with an unprecedented situation of having to choose between two candidates, both insisting they could muster the majority support needed to form a government.

The other candidate was the Socialist Party leader and Acting Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez.

Although Sanchez's party managed to get the majority of votes to have its candidate for speaker of the house elected last week, Felipe VI opted for the underdog conservative candidate.

In a statement, the king said his choice came down to the fact that the Popular Party won the most votes in July's general elections. Although Spanish law does not stipulate that the candidate who won the most votes should be given the first opportunity to form a government, Felipe VI said it comes down to tradition.

Just over 33% of Spanish voters cast their ballots for Feijoo compared to nearly 32% who voted for Sanchez.

However, Feijoo lacks a clear path to winning the majority support needed to form a government. If a major political shift does not occur and Feijoo fails to attract more support from regionalist parties, the backing of the far-right and other traditional allies will not be enough.

In his statement, Spain's king added that no candidate has clear majority support at this moment.

Spain's left-wing bloc, led by Sanchez, is in pivotal negotiations with Catalan separatist parties that could win it the support needed. However, the Catalan parties have tough demands, such as political amnesty for exiled independence leaders -- something the Socialist Party has so far refused to grant.

The chances that the more hardline nationalist Popular Party would negotiate with the Catalan separatists are low. Instead, Feijoo's main hope lies with a political group from the Basque Country, which has so far said it will not support his government due to the Popular Party's relationship with the far-right Vox party.

If Feijoo's attempt at forming a government fails, the king can nominate another candidate to try to form a government.

If all attempts fail, political instability will return to Spain and voters will be forced to go back to the polls.

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