• Ciudadanos to decide stance for confidence vote Wednesday
  • Rivera says Rajoy planning to face confidence vote soon

Mariano Rajoy is moving closer to forming a government in Spain after Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera signaled his party may be willing to abstain in a confidence vote to help end almost seven months of political deadlock.

While rejecting a formal coalition with Rajoy’s People’s Party, Rivera said the country has to “get moving” and ruled out a third election after meeting the caretaker prime minister on Tuesday morning. Rivera said the meeting had been “constructive” and argued their two parties can agree on policy measures and strike a deal to push through next year’s budget. Rajoy won the most seats and was the only candidate to make gains in last month’s election.

“We’re not going to be in government, but we’re realistic, responsible and constructive,” Rivera told reporters after the meeting. “In this new phase, we’re forced to reach an agreement.”

Rivera said Rajoy, who’s been in political limbo since losing his parliamentary majority in December, is now willing to put his candidacy before the 350-seat chamber. In order to become prime minister for a second time, Rajoy needs an outright majority in the first vote or just more yeses that noes at a subsequent vote.

Rivera said his party, which has 32 seats in parliament, will decide on its official position for the confidence vote on Wednesday, signaling an abstention in the second ballot is a possibility. Even if Ciudadanos abstains to allow Rajoy to govern in a minority government, the math still doesn’t add up for the 61-year-old unless he can persuade the Socialists, with 85 seats, to also stand aside.

The Socialist leadership has said it won’t back a Rajoy administration under any circumstances, though senior figures such as former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez have said that may be the party’s best option as it seeks to rebuild support after its worst ever election result.

Rajoy, who has called for the support of the Socialists in order to avoid a third election, is due to meeting Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday. Anti-austerity group Podemos, which finished third last month, has rejected any form of support for a Rajoy-led government.

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