King Felipe held separate meetings with all party leaders this week, as the constitution demands, to decide on who to nominate to the Congreso as candidate to be the next prime minister.
It was no surprise when, on Wednesday evening, the Speaker of parliament, Meritxell Batet, announced that the King had said that Pedro Sánchez should be candidate to be PM. Sánchez's PSOE party has the largest number of seats in Congreso after last month's general election but not a majority.
MPs will now debate and vote on his candidacy, although the date for that is unlikely to be set until the PSOE has exhausted all possibility of winning majority support.
Sánchez's party has been talking with the separatist Catalan republican party, ERC, to try to win their abstention. He already has agreement with left-wing Unidas Podemos to go into coalition but still needs an abstention or more support.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Sánchez blamed opposition parties for not abstaining to allow the government to start work and also agreed to call Catalan leader Quim Torra, something ERC had been demanding.
Many politicians inside and outside the PSOE are nervous about the talks with the Catalan republicans. Worried about the effort and concessions needed to gain their support, one PSOE party grandee said "I don't want vaseline for Christmas".