THE debate leading up to Pedro Sánchez's possibly being invested as president has opened, with slow hand-claps from Podemos and disparaging comments from the PP.
PSOE leader Sánchez has fallen out of favour with the left-wing independents Podemos – the third-largest political force in Spain – after striking a deal with centre-liberals Ciudadanos on future policies.
Podemos considers Ciudadanos to be 'far-right' and says the agreement will do nothing to help improve quality of life for the people of Spain, still suffering from the long recession and the worst unemployment figures in Europe.
“Sánchez has just laughed at the whole of Spain, because it's obvious he's not even capable of forming a government,” the PP tweeted during the debate.
Acting president Mariano Rajoy (PP) remains adamant that the best way forward would be a giant coalition between his party and the PSOE, which are opposite ends of the scale, but Sánchez has repeatedly refused.
However, faced with possibly losing the in-house vote this week, he has extended a hand to both Podemos and the PP in an attempt to break through the country's political impasse.
“Leaving this session without an agreement in our hands will mean we have not done our job well,” Sánchez said at the start of the debate, and called for 'responsible attitudes' from all those present.
“We need to face up to and deal with this country's problems and reach a political solution, and a government of change.”
Sánchez added that this 'government of change' needed to be based upon 'agreement, not assault' – an oblique reference to Podemos, whose leader Pablo Iglesias says he wants to be deputy president and his MPs to lead up several ministries.
And with no single party – or even combination of parties of the same ideology – having won enough seats to govern, says Sánchez, “we are obliged to mix together and compromise.”
“Giving in is not about being defeated; it's about building bridges towards understanding.
“And 18 million Spaniards voted for a government other than the reigning PP; a government who would repair the consequences of past mistakes.”
Sánchez's reference to Ciudadanos' leader Albert Rivera and praising him for his 'bravery and courage' provoked slow hand-claps from Podemos.
The agreement between the PSOE and Ciudadanos means Sánchez is guaranteed 130 votes in favour, but this is a long way from the 176 he needs for a majority on Wednesday night when the other parties give their response to his speech and then make their decision.
Neither will it be enough for the second round of votes on Friday night, when only a simple majority is needed.
Both the PP and Podemos have said they will vote against him.