Spain’s acting Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has lost a parliamentary bid for a second term in office.
The failure to secure the position deepens the country’s political crisis after two inconclusive elections.
Mr Rajoy, leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), secured the backing of 170 representatives in the 350-strong assembly after failing to win support from the opposition.
The loss increases the likelihood of a third election within a year. Mr Rajoy, 61, needed a majority of at least 176 votes in parliament, but secured only the votes of the PP’s 137 lawmakers with the backing of 33 others. Those who voted in favour of a second term for Mr Rajoy include the anti-corruption Ciudadanos (Citizens) party and a small party from the Canary Islands.
The Socialists, anti-austerity alliance Unidos Podemos, and regional parties from the Basque Country and Catalonia voted against him.
Mr Rajoy could still become prime minister in a second vote on Friday, in which a simple majority is needed. But this would require one or more of the other parties to abstain.