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Spanish king nominates conservative Feijoo for premiership bid

People Party executive board after Spanish elections

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain's King Felipe on Tuesday nominated the leader of the conservative People's Party (PP), Alberto Nunez Feijoo, to face a parliamentary vote for prime minister, according to lower house speaker Francina Armengol.

The king, who is head of state, made the decision after consulting representatives of parties that won parliamentary seats in an inconclusive election on July 23 to ascertain whom they would support in the investiture vote.

"We will give a voice to the more than 11 million citizens who want change, stability and moderation with a government that defends the equality of all Spaniards," Feijoo posted on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, as he thanked the king for the mandate.

No single party or bloc earned an outright majority of seats in the snap general election. Feijoo's PP won the most seats - 137 - and so far has the support of another 35 deputies, including from far-right Vox, for a total backing of 172.

Earlier on Tuesday, acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that he believed his Socialist party would be able "to gather the parliamentary support needed" to form a government.

Feijoo will need the support of 176 lawmakers out of the lower house's 350 deputies to clinch the premiership, or, failing that, a simple majority of more yeas than nays in a second vote. If he loses again, the king has to pick a new candidate.

In a show of strength of the left bloc, Sanchez's Socialists had their candidate appointed speaker of the lower house last week.

Armengol was a leader of the Catalan-speaking Balearic Islands region from 2015 to June 2023 and led a coalition with hard-left Podemos and a sister party of Catalonian separatists Esquerra Republicana (ERC).

Her appointment was seen as a nod to smaller regional parties, whose support Sanchez would need in a potential bid should Feijoo fail. These parties include the ERC and another Catalan separatist party, Together for Catalonia (Junts).

If no candidate secures a majority within two months of the first vote, new elections have to be called.

(Reporting by Pietro Lombardi; Writing by David Latona; Editing by Andrei Khalip, Mark Porter and Mark Heinrich)