No Podemos coalition deal with Spain PM Rajoy
Spain's left-wing Podemos (We Can) party has refused to join any coalition led by the centre-right Popular Party (PP), which won the 20 December election but fell short of a majority.
Podemos was launched nearly two years ago, based on mass anti-austerity protests. It came third, with 69 seats.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias rebuffed the PP leader and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, as did the Socialist (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez last week.
New elections might have to be held.
The PP came top with 123 seats in the 350-seat lower house of parliament - far short of a majority. In second place was the PSOE with 90, and the new liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens) party was fourth with 40.
Speaking after talks with Mr Rajoy, Mr Iglesias his priority was "social emergency" legislation to help families threatened with eviction and other socially vulnerable groups, such as poor pensioners.
He refused to support Mr Rajoy "whether actively or passively" - ruling out a coalition partnership or abstention in a confidence vote.
Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera also told Mr Rajoy he would not back him. But Ciudadanos would abstain in the confidence vote if Mr Rajoy managed to put together a coalition, he said.
The PSOE says it will only consider a leftist coalition with Podemos if the latter drops its support for an independence referendum in Catalonia.
Many Catalans want such a referendum, but Podemos is the only one of Spain's major parties to back the idea.
Mr Sanchez called on Podemos to "renounce any position that implies the rupture of co-existence between Spaniards".
Next month King Felipe VI will seek to nominate a party leader for government, but that leader must then win a vote of confidence in parliament. If there is deadlock two months after that the king will call a fresh election.
Doing the post-election sums:
- Grand coalition: Spain has never had a so-called grand coalition that would bring the Popular Party and the Socialists together - and the Socialists said they would not join a grand coalition
- Grand coalition pact: Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera wants the PP and Socialists to join with his party to prevent Catalonia moving to independence
- Coalition of losers: The Socialists might link up with Podemos and Ciudadanos in a move that would echo the outcome of elections in Portugal last month
- Regional solution: The Socialists could also strike a deal with Podemos and smaller regional parties that won just a few seats each, thereby removing the need for a deal with Ciudadanos