ACTING president Mariano Rajoy (PP) appears to have lost the support of liberals Ciudadanos, the nearest party in terms of political values to the right-wing outfit which has governed Spain since November 2011.
In light of the recent string of corruption arrests, all of which involve current or former members of the PP or business owners they have dealt with in handing out public works contracts, Ciudadanos' leader Albert Rivera has said it is 'impossible' for Rajoy to 'lead a democratic regeneration'.
“Anyone who can't keep their house clean cannot clean up Spain either,” he states.
Having initially called for Pedro Sánchez, leader of the PP's nearest rival – the PSOE, or socialists – to abstain in the in-house voting round to allow Rajoy back into the president's seat, Ciudadanos now believes Sánchez should 'accept' the King's nomination to form a government if the Monarch gives this at tomorrow's (Tuesday's) meeting in the Zarzuela Palace.
King Felipe VI has already nominated Rajoy to form a government, since the PP won the most seats in December's general elections – 123 out of 350, although four members have since departed leaving them with 119 – but Rajoy turned this down, saying 'at the moment' he did not have enough support from other parties to attempt to be invested as the country's leader.
As yet, Felipe VI has not formally invited Sánchez to form a government instead, although Rajoy has reiterated he will not attend the in-house voting, due this week at the very earliest.
“If the King asks Pedro Sánchez to form a government, Sánchez should accept but ask for time to negotiate,” said Rivera.
“If he does need extra time to strike a deal, it seems reasonable enough to me that he should have it.”
Sánchez's dilemma, as explained by Rivera, is between 'maintaining the principles of a responsible and reasonable European social democrat' and 'competing with Podemos on populism, break-up and pro-independence policies'.
“If Sánchez opts for the first line, there could be margin for the PSOE and Ciudadanos to come to an understanding,” he admits.
But he believes left-wing Podemos, which has 69 seats to Ciudadanos' 40 and the PSOE's initial 90 – now reduced to 89 after one MP left the party – is intent on 'breaking up Spain'.
Podemos supports the idea of an independence referendum in Catalunya, but says this is in order to achieve Spain's unity through 'democracy' rather than 'prohibition'.
Rivera is due to meet with King Felipe today as part of the second round of interviews between the Monarch and presidential candidates of parties which have won at least one seat in Parliament.
Ciudadanos' leader says he intends to suggest the King put the in-house voting process in place now, rather than 'waiting around chewing the cud'.