Reuters Madrid, Spain
Feb 15, 2019, 03.16 PM
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday called a snap national election for April 28, potentially spelling months of uncertainty in the euro zone's fourth-largest economy, where the political landscape is increasingly fragmented.
Sanchez called the election after parliament voted down his minority government's budget bill.
"Between doing nothing and continuing without the budget and calling on Spaniards to have their say, I choose the second. Spain needs to keep advancing, progressing with tolerance, respect, moderation and common sense," Sanchez said in a televised address to the nation following a cabinet meeting.
"I have proposed to dissolve parliament and call elections for April 28th."
The demise of his Socialist government comes after just over eight months in office.
Opinion polls show that no single party would win enough votes to govern on its own, with possible coalition scenarios pointing to lengthy negotiations between three or more parties - potentially including the far-right Vox.
Sanchez took office in June and had since been leading a government that depended on the votes of small regional parties to pass legislation.
He was thrown against the ropes this week when Catalan nationalist parties, at a time of heightened tension over an independence drive by their region, deserted to help defeat the fiscal bill.
Sanchez's Socialists are leading in polls, with estimates from the last few months averaging at 24 percent, according to a poll of polls by daily El Pais.
But the conservative's People Party (PP) and centre-right Ciudadanos would not be far behind and could theoretically form a coalition with Vox, as they did in the Andalusia region in December.
But Ciudadanos might baulk at teaming up with the far-right nationally, preferring instead a three-way alliance with the Socialists and anti-austerity Podemos.
Markets were little changed after Sanchez's announcement.
Bond markets analysts have said any political impact on sentiment should be short lived given the country's decent macro-economic outlook.
PM Sanchez called the election after parliament voted down his minority government's budget bill.