Madrid, Apr 27: Spain geared up for fresh elections today as the king put in motion a process to dissolve parliament after months of failed coalition talks that have left the country in political limbo.
Following talks with party leaders, King Felipe VI concluded there was no prime ministerial candidate possible more than four months after inconclusive December elections, triggering a constitutional mechanism that dissolves parliament and calls new polls.
"His Majesty the King... has established that there is no candidate with the necessary support," the palace said in a statement. Bar any last-minute surprise turn-of-events, the new elections will be announced on May 3.
Under an official timeframe, they are then expected to take place on June 26 -- the first time a general election will have to be repeated since Spain returned to democracy following the death of long-time dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.
December's vote upended Spain's traditional two-party system as voters weary of austerity, corruption and unemployment flocked to new groupings. While historic, the result left Spain in uncharted waters as the country has never had a coalition government since its transition to democracy.
Parties were forced to go to the negotiating table, but unused to these types of talks, they were unable to reach a deal as the deadline approached. So the king launched a third and last round of consultations with party leaders yesterday and today, after which he had been expected to make the announcement.
In a surprise move that gave Spaniards a brief glimmer of hope, a small regional grouping came up with a last-ditch proposal to form a new government for the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.
Party leaders examined it, but as the day wore on they either rejected it or accused others of torpedoing the document.
The final nail in the coffin came when the main opposition Socialists (PSOE) -- who had been tasked by the king with forming a government following December's election -- said they had given up.
"We are heading to new elections," PSOE chief Pedro Sanchez told reporters after meeting the king.