Spain's divided Socialists to vote in leadership battle

His detractors want the party to use the 85 parliamentary seats it won in June polls to help unblock the national deadlock and allow Rajoy to lead a right-wing government by abstaining in a vote of confidence, rather than voting against as it did earlier this month.

Members of the bitterly divided Socialist assembly met on Saturday to decide whether to open up a leadership race in October, as proposed by Sanchez, or oust him.

His departure comes after months of internal division within the party, and could mean an end to Spain's political gridlock as the new Socialist leadership may be more willing to let acting Conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy form a coalition government.

The Socialists will be under interim management until a party conference can choose a new leader.

Sanchez's resignation, which was confirmed by both an advisor and an opponent from within the ranks of the PSOE, came a day after he predicted Saturday's debate would be "decisive".

Last week, the Socialist leader hinted at a possible attempt to deal with Podemos and the Catalan pro-independence parties to form a government, but PSOE's conservative wing, including former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, publicly opposed that option.

The opposition group led by his main rival, the head of the Andalusia region Susana Diaz, has imposed her plan to organize a congress after a new government takes office in Spain. Still, Sanchez supporters gathered outside party headquarters in Madrid on Saturday, chanting his name.

Most observers and analysts believe the Socialists will go for the first option, to give them time to regroup and not run the risk of losing more ground in a third election in a year.

Jackie Walker on verge of losing Momentum role over Holocaust remarks
She also questioned why Jewish schools required security. "There is security in his nursery and every school has security now". Of course the Jewish Holocaust was an very bad and extraordinary event and Jewish people should have a day to celebrate that.

However, Rajoy's unpopularity and his party's implication in a number of major corruption cases had pushed Sanchez away from any approach to the Conservatives.

The 137-year-old Socialist party is reeling in from losses in the Galician and Basque regional elections last month and its worst-ever results in the last two national elections.

Spain's parliament has until October 31 to produce a government or new elections will be called in December - the third in a year.

One analyst said the only victor in the political stalemate is Rajoy.

"The Spanish left is broken".

Rajoy has been leading a caretaker government after the two elections.

If his critics get their way and he quits, an interim leadership will be appointed which would likely direct the Socialists to abstain if Rajoy chose to go for another vote of confidence, thus unblocking the situation and avoiding a third round of elections.

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