Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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Spain’s lawmakers sworn in with far-right Vox as third-largest party

Spain’s new parliament met for its opening session on Tuesday, with the far-right Vox as the third-largest party following a divisive election that failed to resolve years of political deadlock.
Just over three weeks after the vote, lawmakers were on Tuesday taking the oath of office, although there was little indication of when a government would be formed.
The legislature has been gridlocked since an inconclusive April election which the Socialists won but without a majority -- in an outcome repeated on November 10, leaving Pedro Sanchez a winner but weakened. And this time round, Vox -- which only a year ago was just a marginal player -- more than doubled its showing, snaring 52 mandates and becoming the third-largest faction within the 350-seat parliament.
Days after the election, Sanchez and the radical leftwing Podemos agreed in principle to form a coalition government. But such a government would only have 155 seats, leaving it dependent on support from other factions for the 176 mandates to pass an investiture vote.
Last month, Sanchez’s negotiating team began talks with the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), a Catalan separatist party which won 13 seats in November’s election.
But so far it has refused to offer its backing, demanding in exchange talks on the Catalan crisis which would likely include its call for a referendum on self-determination -- an idea Madrid has rejected out of hand.