Friday

23rd Feb 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Corruption report: Hungary gets worse, Italy makes progress

Italians, Czechs and Latvians perceive less corruption than a few years ago in Transparency International's annual ranking. The Berlin-based NGO said Finland was a 'worrying case', whilst Bulgaria - which holds the EU presidency - is EU's most corrupt.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  2. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  3. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  4. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  5. European far-right political party risks collapse
  6. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table
  7. EU leaders to kick off post-Brexit budget debate
  8. Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?