King Felipe Says Spain's Election Results Show Need for Dialogue

  • Voter choices underscore head of state's role in government
  • According to constitution, monarch names the prime minister

Spain’s general election, which produced no obvious governing alliance, highlighted the need for shared constitutional values in spite of regional diversities, King Felipe said.

Spain’s head of state spoke in his second annual televised addressed to the nation. Eighteen months into his reign, Felipe is facing an unprecedented political gridlock that threatens to derail his country’s economic recovery. He closed his speech in Catalan, Basque and Galician in a nod to the sensitivities surrounding different regional identities.

“I sincerely think nowadays we live in times in which it’s more necessary than ever to recognize all that unites us,” Felipe said in a 15-minute speech. “The political diversity that emerged from the ballots gives a different awareness, vision and perspective and points to politics based on dialogue.”

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is claiming the moral authority to govern for a second term but he doesn’t have the votes in parliament after losing a third of his lawmakers in Sunday’s election. Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez says there’s no way he’ll support Rajoy, raising the possibility of an alliance with anti-austerity group Podemos and other smaller regional political parties.

That prospect is raising the hackles of many in Sanchez’s party because Podemos is happy to let the region of Catalonia vote on independence, a move that is anathema to many Socialists.

As the post-election impasse stretches on, Felipe’s role grows more important.

Under Spain’s 1978 constitution, it’s up to the king to nominate a prime minister who’s then confirmed by a vote in parliament. In normal circumstances, that process is a formality. Now he may have a crucial, albeit discreet, role to play as a mediator.

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