Mariano Rajoy
Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy failed to secure the support of the opposition Socialists party, who voted unanimously against him Reuters

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's bid to form the government got rejected when he lost a parliamentary confidence vote on Wednesday (31 August). Now, this deepening political crisis has brought Spain a step closer to the likelihood of holding elections for the third time in one year.

Rajoy, leader of the centre-right People's Party (PP) fell short of votes as he received only 170 ayes from the 350-strong assembly. He needed a minimum of 176 votes to form the government.

He failed to secure the support of the opposition Socialists party, who voted unanimously against him, besides the regional parities from the Basque Country and Catalonia. He got the backing of the anti-corruption Ciudadanos (Citizens) party and a small party from the Canary Islands, according to a Reuters report.

Spain faced a political deadlock when it went for polls in December 2015 which resulted in a hung parliament. Since the four main parties failed to agree on forming a coalition government, the country voted for the second time within a span of six months.

Rajoy, who came to power in 2011, still has a chance to become Spanish prime minister when he faces a second vote on Friday (2 September). He will need a simple majority to form a PP-led minority government provided one or more of the other parties – 11 voters in total – abstain from voting.

"Given the situation we are in, after two elections and the threat of a third election which you seem to want, I ask you to abstain," Rajoy told the parliament on Wednesday (31 August).

However, he could face a loss if the opposition Socialist party do not give up. This would give Rajoy another two months to try and form a government before prompting another election in December.

He called on the opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez to refrain from voting saying: "We can't keep on having election after election until there is an outcome for a government that Mr Sanchez likes."

Sanchez has accused Rajoy for getting caught up in a series of corruption scandal. But Rajoy told the parliament he wanted support from everyone to form a government so that he could help steer Spain's economy back from its brink of meltdown and play a leading role in the EU.