Spanish Socialist party faces turmoil as rebels avoid third election, Spanish third national election 2016,Pedro Sanchez , conservative People Party, Mariano Rajoy

Last Modified: September 30, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Spanish Socialist party faces turmoil as rebels avoid third election, Spanish third national election 2016,Pedro Sanchez , conservative People Party, Mariano Rajoy 

Spain’s political deadlock has taken its most dramatic turn in nine months as the main opposition Socialist party’s leadership has torn itself in two, with members resigning en masse to try to unseat their leader and avoid a third unwinnable election.

A stand-off between the Socialists, headed by Pedro Sanchez, and the conservative People’s Party (PP) – which won the most votes but fell short of a majority in two inconclusive elections – has frustrated repeated attempts to form a government.

With the clock counting down to a possible third national election in December, the Socialist rebels hope they can oust Sanchez and seek ways to break the deadlock, including a potential abstention in a confidence vote to let acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stay in power.

On Wednesday, the 17 rebels resigned from the Socialist’s 38-strong executive committee, which was already down three members, and called for Sanchez, who oversaw the party’s worst election result in June, to stand down.

In a confidence vote in August, Sanchez refused to allow a minority government led by Rajoy, whose party he chastises as corrupt and committed to austerity.

Since his election in 2011, Mr. Rajoy has presided over Spain’s recovery from a punishing recession but lost support among voters stung by austerity measures and angry over corruption scandals.

With his party holding 137 of the current parliament’s 350 seats, Mr. Rajoy would have a shot at winning a new term next month if at least some of the Socialists, the second-largest bloc with 85 seats, abstained rather than voting against him, as they did this month.