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Spain parliament to debate PM´s bid to form government

By AFP - Dec 31,2019 - Last updated at Dec 31,2019

MADRID — Spain's parliament will on Saturday begin debating acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's bid to form a new government following a November general election which his Socialists won with fewer seats than in April, the assembly said.

Parliament speaker Meritxell Batet on Tuesday informed party representatives that the investiture debate will take place on January 4, 5 and 7, the assembly said in a text message to journalists.

Batet will make the formal call of the debate with details of the exact timings on January 2, it added.

Sanchez needs an absolute majority of at least 176 lawmakers in the 350-seat parliament to take office in a first vote which is expected to take place on January 5.

If he fails this first vote, a simple majority — more yes votes than no — is needed in a second vote that will be held 48 hours later on January 7.

Sanchez's Socialists won 120 seats in a repeat general election on November 10 — three fewer than it won in April — and it has signed an agreement to form a coalition government with hard-left party Podemos which won 35 seats.

The Socialists have also secured the backing of several other smaller formations including the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) but to be sworn in for another term they still need the backing of Catalan separatist party ERC, which won 13 seats in last month's polls, Spain's fourth general election in four years.

The ERC has said it is willing to abstain from voting, which would be enough to allow Sanchez to win the simple majority he needs in the second investiture vote, but the party will only make its final decision on Thursday.

Sanchez first became prime minister in 2018 when he removed his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote.

After April's general election he failed to get parliament's backing to form a government because his talks with Podemos to form a coalition broke down, sparking the fresh polls.

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