Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A budget standoff prompted Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez Friday to call for snap general elections in two months -- the third country's general election in four years.
After two days of congressional debate, Sanchez couldn't garner enough support to pass his budget. Sanchez warned opponents from the conservative Popular Party and center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) Party he'd call for new elections if the budget failed.
"This budget was good for Spainards, and for each and every one of the territories in our country," Sanchez said. "We had to present our budget and we did so; unfortunately it did not prosper, but let me say one thing: there are parliamentary defeats that are social victories. Citizens have seen what this government wanted for this country."
Sanchez faces an uphill battle with his Socialist Party, having only 84 of the 350 seats in the house, and needs support from other parties to get anything passed. Spain is increasingly polarized and no prime minister has had a parliamentary majority since 2011.
Complicating matters, several Catalan separatist leaders are on trial before the Spanish Supreme Court over the region's attempt to declare independence in 2017. The pro-independence movement tried to trade support for the budget in exchange for concessions for the 12 Catalan defendants, who have been accused of rebellion and sedition.
The snap general election, set for April 28, will run parallel to the Catalan trial, making it a key issue in the campaign. On May 26, Spain will hold separate municipal and regional elections as well as elections for European Parliament, the ruling body of the European Union.
In a speech Friday, Sanchez cited his successes and warned against greater polarization.
"Spain does not deserve to get stuck because of partisan interests," he said. "Spain belongs to its citizens. It is they who must decide whether to take a step backward. We defend a country where there is room for everyone."
Europe has increasingly moved farther to the right in recent years, making Sanchez's left-leaning ideology more of an outlier.