Spain's PM to call early election for mid-April

News follows the largest protests against him since taking office and a rising parliament division

Photo: EPA Spanish Primer Minister Pedro Sanchez

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is reportedly considering calling an early national election for 14 April, state-owned news agency EFE reported on Monday citing unnamed government sources. The move comes as Sanchez's Socialists party, which holds less than a quarter of the seats in the lower parliamentary house, has been struggling to gather enough support to pass a 2019 budget bill.

The pass of the bill depends on the vote of smaller parties, including Catalan nationalists. But the opposition centre-right and far-right parties portray talks between the government and Catalan pro-independence parties as a betrayal. Thus, they staged a show of strength on Sunday by bringing tens of thousands of demonstrators onto the streets of Madrid, demanding an election and accusing the prime minister of being soft in talks with Catalan separatists. This became the largest protest Sanchez has faced since taking office eight months ago.

At the same time, the budget showdown coincides with the start of the trial on Tuesday of the separatists who led the 2017 push for independence so Catalan lawmakers are wary of supporting his Socialist government. And if Sanchez doesn't get the needed votes to pass his budget, he will have to call an election before the summer.

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