By Jose Elías Rodríguez
MADRID (Reuters) - The leader of Spain's far-left Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, said on Friday he still hoped for a last-minute government deal with the Socialists of the acting prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, to avoid a repeat election after months of failing to agree.
Chances of such a deal looked slim, however, as both sides dug in their heels and said it was up to the other to give in.
The parties have been trying to form a government since an inconclusive election in April. If a government is not sworn in by Sept. 23, a new election would be held on Nov. 10.
"I believe that at the last moment we will come to an agreement, like in the game of basketball," Iglesias said, an apparent reference to a World Cup semi-final on Friday when Spain came from behind to beat Australia in double overtime.
"Our position is pro-stability ... we should be working until the last moment," he told La Sexta television.
The stalemate highlights how tense and fragmented Spain's political landscape has become, and there is no guarantee that a new election would fix that. Sanchez has been acting premier since his party won the April election with the most seats but not enough to form a government on its own.
Without a 'yes' vote by Podemos, Sanchez stands no chance to be confirmed as premier by parliament.
Iglesias said that if there was a repeat election he would be more demanding in coalition talks and would not accept being vetoed by Sanchez, who said he did not want him in his cabinet.
Iglesias reiterated his latest offer of a coalition government for a one-year trial period, which Sanchez rejected on Thursday.
Acting government spokesman Isabel Celaa responded in a news conference that it was up to Podemos to budge. She reaffirmed that Sanchez would not seek parliament's backing to be confirmed as premier if he is not guaranteed to win that vote.
In July, parliament rejected twice Sanchez's confirmation bid, and this is his last opportunity to form a government.
(Reporting by Jose Elias Rodriguez, Jesus Aguado, Belen Carreno; Writing by Andrei Khalip and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Peter Graff)