The head of Spain's conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) will face a parliamentary debate and vote to become prime minister in September, the president of the parliament said Wednesday.
The announcement comes a day after Spain's King Felipe VI called on PP leader Allberto Nunez Feijoo to seek to form a new government, despite his party not having a majority following a snap general election on July 23 that produced a hung parliament.
The two-day debate will start on September 26 with the vote on Feijoo's bid on the 27, said president of the parliament Francina Armengol.
"I believe that this date gives more than enough time for the candidate to carry out the appropriate negotiations with the representatives of the different political formations," Armengol said.
The PP won the most seats but neither it nor acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists emerged with a clear path to achieve the 176-seat majority needed to win an investiture vote and take office.
On the face of it, Feijoo will fall short as his PP has 137 parliamentary seats while potential allies far-right Vox and two small regional parties only have 33 between them.
If pooled, those would give a PP-led coalition only 172 votes.
And if Feijoo fails to get a majority during a first investiture vote, he will face a second vote where just a simple majority of more yes than no votes are needed.
If he loses again, the king has to pick a new candidate -- most likely Sanchez, whose party finished second.
If no candidate secures a majority within two months of the first investiture vote, new elections have to be called, which has happened with elections in both 2015 and 2019.
Sanchez wants to return at the head of a "progressive" government of centre and radical left, and insists he could garner more votes than Feijoo.
He has the support of far-left formation Sumar and could cobble together a majority with the support of Catalan and Basque pro-independence parties.
But Catalan separatist parties have set a high bar for their support, calling for a sweeping amnesty for hundreds of activists facing legal action for their role in a failed 2017 independence bid and it is not likely Sanchez will be able to reach a deal with them.
The PP has in the past reached deals with Catalan and Basque separatist parties but its alliance with Vox -- which is fiercely opposed to separatism -- means they are not an option this time around.