Thursday

30th Mar 2017

Spain's Rajoy faces uphill battle to win MPs' support

  • “Spain urgently needs a government,” Mariano Rajoy told the Spanish parliament. (Photo: moncloa.gob.es)

Spain’s acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy called on Tuesday (30 August) for rivals to help him secure a second term to avoid another general election and protect the country’s economic recovery.

Eight months after Spain’s political deadlock began, conservative Rajoy is seeking the support of parliament on Wednesday after striking a deal with the small centrist party Ciudadanos (Citizens) and a Canary Islands member of parliament.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The deal gives him 170 votes in the 350-seat parliament, where his Popular Party has 137 seats, but he is still six short of a majority.

“Spain urgently needs a government,” Rajoy told the Spanish parliament.

“We are receiving many warnings from inside and outside Spain about the need to have a full government as fast as possible. If we don’t, things could turn bad and get worse.”

In an hour-and-a-half speech, Rajoy argued that Spain’s economy was growing at double the eurozone average and creating jobs as a result of the reforms his party has introduced since winning power at the height of the debt crisis in 2011.

He said Spain’s most urgent task was to draw up its 2017 budget to meet the terms of its European Union commitment to cut its public deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2018.

Little chance of winning

If it failed to meet a 15 October deadline to present its budget to European authorities, Spain could face penalties and a loss in credibility, he warned.

If Rajoy fails to win a majority, a second vote will be held on Friday, when the PP leader needs only a simple majority - more yes votes than no - meaning abstaining or absent MPs could help him remain in power.

His party is calling on historical rivals the Socialists for help, by abstaining in Friday's vote.

However, ahead of the vote, there looked to be little chance Rajoy would win a majority this week.

“We saw a tired candidate with a worn-out project,” Socialist Party spokesman Antonio Hernando told reporters after Rajoy’s speech.

“The Socialists don’t have a single reason to give him our support on Wednesday or Friday.”

“It was a mediocre, blackmailing speech,” said Inigo Errejon, of anti-austerity party Podemos.

Even Ciudadanos members, who have agreed to back Rajoy, were critical of his speech, saying he failed to lay out all the commitments made in their deal.

Ciudadanos agreed to back Rajoy after the PP signed a pre-condition anti-corruption pact and then agreed 150 measures signed on Sunday. They included a pledge to reform the benefits system for workers, help for the self-employed and increased social spending for benefits for families caring for dependant relatives.

“The stability of the government depends on meeting the commitments we’ve signed,” said Juan Carlos Girauta, parliamentary spokesman for Ciudadanos.

Rajoy was booed during his speech when he asked whether rivals wanted a third election.

Alternative to Rajoy

Some leading Socialists have called for the party to discuss whether to let Rajoy govern. The leadership has so far stuck to its “no” to Rajoy but some think the party may change stance later after giving Rajoy a first defeat in parliament.

Podemos wants Sanchez to explore an alternative government to Rajoy. But a Socialist-Podemos coalition would fall 20 seats short of the absolute majority.

While Podemos would be happy to try to pact with regional parties like Catalan nationalists calling for independence, the Socialists are wary and also distrust Podemos after their negotiations with them failed earlier this year.

Rajoy mocked that alternative. “It would be a government of a thousand colours, radical and inefficient,” he said. “It would be endangered by parties … who want to break up Spain.”

On Tuesday, a group of 700 Spanish celebrities took out a three-page advert in left-wing newspaper El Pais calling for a “progressive government” between the Socialists, Podemos and Ciudadanos. They included actors, writers, former judge Baltasar Garzon and singer Joaquin Sabina.

“Although the PP was the most voted party on June 26, most of us voted for a change of government and policy,” said the manifesto. “We shouldn’t allow four more years of impoverishment and increasing inequality, the eating away of important social conquests, the loss of liberties we thought were consolidated, the advance of corruption and the degeneration of democracy.”

If no-one can form a government within two months of Wednesday's vote, Spain will be forced into a third election, which would fall on Christmas Day (25 December) unless the rules are changed.

This week’s cover by satirical magazine Jueves pictures Rajoy holding a gun to baby Jesus’ head: “Make me prime minister or I’ll wipe out Christmas”, says the speech bubble.

Anti-corruption pact holds key to Spain deadlock

After eight months and two elections, Spain's political parties edge closer to a deal that would keep Mariano Rajoy as prime minister in return for anti-corruption reforms.

Poll: Third Spanish election won't end limbo

Spain’s Socialist Party was seen as the only gainer from a potential third election – but a return to the ballot box would produce another fragmented parliament, a closely watched opinion poll showed on Monday.

Spain still far from having a government

Acting PM Mariano Rajoy lost a confidence vote on Wednesday and is likely to lose another one on Friday. The deadlock could lead to new elections in December.

Spain braces for Christmas election

Acting PM Rajoy's failure to form a government last week makes another general election ever more likely. But a Basque regional party might offer support that would push him closer to a national majority.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  2. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  3. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  5. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  6. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  7. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  9. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  10. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  11. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Latest News

  1. Hungary attempts to stifle Soros-founded university in Budapest
  2. European right shows divisions on EU values after Brexit
  3. Transparency is key EU tactic in Brexit talks
  4. Russia building 'arc of iron' around Europe
  5. Französische und deutsche Wahlen 'entscheidend' für Putin
  6. EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy
  7. MEPs draw 'red lines' on Brexit deal
  8. MEPs call for reset in relations with Belarus

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  2. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  3. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  5. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  6. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsDomestic Violence in Tajikistan: Time to Right the Wrongs
  8. European Trust SummitCorporate Strategy and Public Affairs in a Low-Trust World - Conference 31 May
  9. Malta EU 2017Agreement Reached to Involve Consumers in Financial Services Policymaking
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cities Gather Against Violent Extremism & Introduce Nordic Safe Cities
  11. World VisionFears and Dreams of Syria's Children and Their Peers Around the World
  12. Mission of China to the EUEU Window Chinese Government Academic Scholarship 2017/18 - Apply Now