Last week it seemed like a trial balloon or a negotiating tactic; this Friday it's become a reality: Spain will have an early general election. There had been speculation about other possible dates, but in the end prime minister Pedro Sánchez has gone for Sunday 28th April.
Speaking in the Moncloa government palace, after a special cabinet meeting, Sánchez announced the dissolution of the Parliament and the immediate calling of an election. "Whatever the Spanish people decide will be well decided," he said. He had earlier informed the king of his decision.
Sánchez defended his decision as being a response to the "blocks" faced by his policies. It comes one week after breaking off dialogue with the Catalan government, five days after a march against him in Madrid by the right and far right and just two days after his budget failed. "The dilemma is clear for the Spanish government and for me as prime minister", he said today, "either continue governing with a budget which isn't ours and fail to meet social needs, or believe that Spain cannot lose one minute and needs to move forwards".
The prime minister only took office last summer after a motion of no-confidence forced out Mariano Rajoy. "After almost nine months of advances and positive transformations, the Spanish government and Spain have come up against a block, rejecting the most social budget of the last decade," he said.
The next month, on 26th May, there are already scheduled European, regional and local elections in Spain. It's also expected that the trial of Catalan pro-independence leaders in the Supreme Court will still be underway at the end of April.