Spanish PM to announce snap election soon after budget vote: sources

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attends a session at Parliament in Madrid, Spain, February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s minority Socialist government expects to lose a key budget vote on Wednesday and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to announce an early general election soon after, government sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The sources said the snap election date had not been set, but added that April 14 was most likely followed by April 28, because Sanchez wants a ballot as soon as possible to mobilise left-leaning voters against the threat of the right coming to power.

The budget vote depends largely on pro-independence Catalan parties, who have so far said they would oppose it.

They have called for, among other things, Catalonia’s right to self-determination, prohibited by the Spanish constitution, in exchange for their support for the draft budget.

But parties can theoretically change their mind until the last minute.

“The idea is to announce we’re calling elections as soon as possible once the (vote on) the state’s general budget is lost,” one source told Reuters, as lawmakers were debating the budget proposal ahead of Wednesday’s preliminary vote.

Another senior government source confirmed this, saying: “It is likely, as soon as the voting (on the budget) ends.”

The source did not say when Sanchez would announce the snap election.

His Socialists hold less than a quarter of the seats in the lower house, and speculation about whether it will serve a full term has been rife since it took office last year when the conservative People’s Party lost a confidence vote.

(Reporting by Belen Carreno,; Writing by Ingrid Melander,; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Ed Osmond)