Spain's acting prime minister said on Monday that he would continue to seek support to form a minority government and end an eight-month political impasse even if he fails to win confidence votes in parliament this week as is expected.
Mariano Rajoy puts his candidacy to parliament first on Wednesday, and the conservative Popular party leader needs an absolute majority in the 350-seat chamber. If he fails, he has another chance Friday when he only needs more votes in favor than against.
But his chances of winning either remained doomed as opposition Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez reiterated his party's decision to vote against Rajoy after a final meeting with the acting premier on Monday.
Rajoy has 170 seats in his favor, counting his own Popular Party's 137, the business-friendly Ciudadanos party's 32 and one from another small parliamentary group. That leaves him just six short of a majority, but for the moment no other party is apparently willing to lend a hand.
The Popular Party and Ciudadanos are pressing for the Socialists' 85 lawmakers to at least abstain but the Socialists, like most other parties, say they can't support a party they blame for high unemployment, political corruption and recent severe cuts in national health care and public education.
If the situation remains deadlocked two months after the Aug. 31 vote, Spain will have to hold a new election on Christmas Day.
Rajoy, in power since 2011, has been running a caretaker government following two inconclusive elections in December and June.
Both elections saw the rise of two new groups, Ciudadanos, and the third-place, far-left Unidos Podemos alliance, and effectively ended Spain's traditional two-party political system of the Popular Party and the Socialists.