Spain heading for snap election after budget defeat

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is expected to announce a snap election later this week after his government’s budget was defeated by Catalan separatists.

Sanchez, who had relied on the Catalan independence parties to pass legislation, is due to announce a date for the election on Friday following a meeting of his cabinet. It is anticipated that the election will be held by April, with Reuters (citing unnamed sources) suggesting April 14 or 28 are the most likely dates.

The socialist government, which has been in power since June after toppling the conservative People’s Party in a vote of no confidence, has relied on confidence and supply agreements with many other parties, as Sanchez’s PSOE holds only 84 seats.

Talks over independence between the Catalan independence parties (the Catalan Democratic Party and the Republican Left of Catalonia) and the PSOE collapsed last week, after the government made clear that no single part of the country could vote to secede.

Sanchez and his socialist party face a growing threat from the right and far-right in the country. Only last Sunday thousands demonstrated in Madrid calling for fresh elections, outraged at Sanchez for reaching out to the separatists to pass the budget.

Among those is growing support for the far-right party Vox, formed at the end of 2013 on a ultranationalist and anti-Islam platform. Last December saw the party enter a regional parliament for the first time, winning 12 seats and 11 percent of the vote in Andalusia.

Based on current polling, the ruling PSOE is set to be the largest party, but should the People’s Party and the centre Citizens Party form a deal with Vox, they could form a new government.

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