Friday

21st Jul 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

Investigation

Mafia money pollutes the EU economy

Huge amounts of money from criminal activities are funnelled into the legitimate European economy. But little is being done about it at EU or national level.

Investigation

Free movement of organised crime in Europe

The mafia is often seen as being a traditionally Italian concern, but evidence shows that it might be much closer to home than many Europeans think.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  2. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  3. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  4. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  5. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  6. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  7. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary
  8. Commission: clean up diesel cars, or EU agency inevitable

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  2. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead
  3. EU2017EEPM Ratas: EU Is Not Only an Idea for the 500mn People in the Bloc, It Is Their Daily Reality
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCloser Energy Co-Operation Keeps Nordic Region on Top in Green Energy
  5. ILGA-EuropeGermany Finally Says Ja - Bundestag Votes for Marriage Equality!
  6. EPSUJapanese and European Public Sector Unions Slam JEFTA
  7. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  8. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  9. EU2017EEEstonia to Surprise Europe With Unique Cultural Programme
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Vs. Critical Voices
  11. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  12. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law