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Spanish politicians mull reform to avoid Christmas Day election

MADRID (Reuters) - The ruling People's Party (PP) said on Wednesday it would try to prevent Spain's next election from falling on Christmas Day, as talks to form a government and avoid the third vote in a year flounder.

The rise of new political players in the wake of a long recession has split voters and resulted in two consecutive hung parliaments after general elections on Dec. 20 and June 26.

Parties are trying to minimize the fallout from any third ballot among exasperated voters, as they blame each other for the impasse and look to change the date.

Spain's electoral calendar dictates that the next election would fall on Dec. 25 if parties fail by Oct. 31 to form an administration.


"If the Socialist party forces us into a third election, the PP is going to work to make sure it does not fall on Dec. 25," PP spokesman Rafael Hernando told a news conference.

He said the conservative PP would present a motion in parliament to change the electoral law to allow parties to trim campaigns to one week rather than two, meaning the ballot would be on Dec. 18. The motion would need approval from other forces, though most have signaled they would be in favor.

Parties on the right and left have until now vetoed each others' proposals to form a government.

PP leader and caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lost a parliamentary confidence vote in early September on a second term in office after opposition from the center-left Socialists, triggering the countdown to a third election. [nL8N1BE3CE]

Negotiations between all sides on a coalition have stalled as parties wait for the results of regional elections in the Basque Country and Galicia on Sept. 25.

Voter frustration is rising and polls show abstention could reach record highs in another election.

The PP is seen as the main beneficiary of a third ballot, though it would likely still be short of a parliamentary majority. [nL8N1AP24X] [nL8N1BN072]

(Reporting by Blanca Rodriguez and Sarah White; editing by Andrew Roche)