The political uncertainty in Spain continues a good two months after the early parliamentary elections. As expected, the conservative opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo failed on Wednesday in his first attempt to form a new government. The 62-year-old’s candidacy for the office of Prime Minister and the successor to the socialist Pedro Sánchez, who has only been in power since the end of July, was rejected by the lower house in Madrid with 178 votes to 172.

The bankruptcy has consequences: the countdown to new elections was initiated in accordance with the constitution with the first rejected application. The pressure is growing. If no head of government is found within two months, i.e. by November 27th, the Spaniards would have to go to the polls again on January 14th. It’s not just a domestic political blockade that threatens. This would mean that Spain’s entire EU Council Presidency until December 31st would be overshadowed by the political uncertainty in the fourth largest economy in the eurozone.

During the debates, the Socialists and representatives of other parties accused Feijóo of having “robbed valuable time” from Spain in a difficult time with inflation, war and the migration crisis in Europe with his candidacy, which was seen as hopeless.

Feijóo has a new chance on Friday. Unlike the vote on Wednesday, in which he would have needed an absolute majority of at least 176 votes, a simple majority is enough for the head of the conservative People’s Party PP. But that is not in sight for the candidate either. The state TV broadcaster RTVE spoke of an “impossible candidacy”. After Feijóo, Sánchez, who has been in power since 2018, is also expected to make an attempt in October or November.

In the election on July 23rd, the PP received the most votes and the most seats in the “Congreso de los Diputados” ahead of Sánchez’s Socialists (PSOE). However, since neither party initially received sufficient support from other groups to form a majority capable of governing, King Felipe VI. decided that the election winner would be the first to apply.

Feijóo’s failure was largely attributed to the fact that he was supported by the 33 MPs of the right-wing populist party Vox. Without them he would have had no chance anyway, as his PP only has 137 seats. Only two small conservative regional parties voted for Feijóo with one vote each, despite the “common cause” with Vox.

A “grand coalition” between the PP and PSOE is considered impossible in Spain, as the two traditional parties are ideologically much further apart than their German sister parties, the CDU and SPD. That’s why it’s probably a case of a new edition of Sánchez for Spain or a months-long blockade.

The socialist is given better chances than his conservative rival. In addition to the votes of the left-wing alliance Sumar and smaller regional parties, Sánchez also needs agreements with the left-wing ERC of Catalan Prime Minister Pere Aragonès and with the Junts party of the separatist leader and Spanish fugitive from justice Carles Puigdemont, who lives in exile in Belgium. Both ERC and Junts seek independence for Catalonia. For their support of a left-wing government, they are demanding, among other things, an amnesty for those “Catalanistas” who took part in the failed attempt to secede in 2017.