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Spanish Politicians Weigh Change in Law to Avoid Christmas Day Election

  • Reuters

FILE - A man prepares to vote in Spain's general election at a polling station in Rincon de la Victoria, June 26, 2016.

FILE - A man prepares to vote in Spain's general election at a polling station in Rincon de la Victoria, June 26, 2016.

The ruling People's Party said Wednesday that it would try to prevent Spain's next election from falling on Christmas Day, as talks to form a government and avoid the third vote in a year floundered.

The rise of new political players in the wake of a long recession has split voters and resulted in two consecutive hung parliaments after general elections on December 20 and June 26.

Parties are trying to minimize the fallout from any third ballot among exasperated voters, as they blame each other for the impasse and look to change the date.

Spain's electoral calendar dictates that the next election would fall on December 25 if parties failed by October 31 to form an administration.

"If the Socialist party forces us into a third election, the PP is going to work to make sure it does not fall on December 25," PP spokesman Rafael Hernando told reporters.

He said the conservative PP would present a motion in parliament to change the electoral law to allow parties to trim campaigns to one week rather than two, meaning the ballot would be on December 18. The motion would need approval from other forces, though most have signaled they would be in favor.

Parties on the right and left have until now vetoed each other's proposals to form a government.

PP leader and caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lost a parliamentary confidence vote in early September on a second term in office after opposition from the center-left Socialists, triggering the countdown to a third election.

Negotiations among all sides on a coalition have stalled as parties wait for the results of regional elections in the Basque Country and Galicia on September 25.

Voter frustration is rising and polls show abstention could reach record highs in another election.

The PP is seen as the main beneficiary of a third ballot, though it would likely still be short of a parliamentary majority.

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