Spain's King Felipe calls new election amid political deadlock

Spanish king Felipe VI signs a decree dissolving parliament (3 May) Image copyright AFP
Image caption King Felipe signed the official decree declaring new elections, at 09:37 (07:37 GMT) on Tuesday

Spanish voters will return to the polls on 26 June, six months after a general election failed to produce a clear-cut result.

King Felipe VI signed a decree on Tuesday to dissolve parliament, bringing to an end months of stalemate between the four main parties.

Spain has never had a repeat election since it returned to democracy in 1975,

The parliament speaker expressed her hope that the parties had learned from their failure to produce a government.

"I hope we have all learned our lesson and that the next parliament reaches an agreement as soon as possible," Patxi Lopez told reporters.

However, opinion polls suggest little change in support for the four parties since the 20 December poll.

'Usual suspects' head for fresh poll - by James Badcock

Image caption Spain's 'usual suspects', party leaders (from left to right) Mariano Rajoy, Pedro Sanchez, Pablo Iglesias and Albert Rivera

The nightmare scenario is that the same devilish parliamentary mathematics is produced by the repeat poll.

Will the politicians sweat out a deal through Spain's hot summer weeks, or will autumn roll around with no proper mandate for a government in place?

There is a danger that 2016 will be remembered as a lost year in Spanish politics, unless the country's political leaders find their sense of duty.

Spain's leaders line up for re-election

The last election marked an end to the traditional dominance of Spanish politics by the centre-right Popular Party (PP) and Socialist PSOE which lost votes to the left-wing anti-austerity Podemos movement and centrist Ciudadanos (Citizens) party.

Although the PP won the vote, they lost their majority and leader Mariano Rajoy has been caretaker prime minister ever since.

After his attempt to form a government failed, PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez reached a coalition deal with Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera but was unable to reach a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

Podemos refused to serve in a coalition with the centrists.

The party is now considering whether to team up with the former communist Izquierda Unida (United Left), which might increase their power in parliament.

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