Rajoy Warns of New Spanish Elections Without Socialist Support

  • Rajoy needs a majority coalition to form a new government
  • People’s Party will vote this month on conditions for accord

Spain’s Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is exploring an accord with rival party Ciudadanos in an effort to form a majority governing coalition and said that intransigence by the Socialists could force a new round of elections.

“I will keep seeking some kind of cooperation from the Socialists,” Rajoy told reporters Wednesday in Madrid after meeting Ciudadanos head Albert Rivera. If the Socialists continue to block an alliance then “we’ll go to fresh elections,” he said.

The Socialists’ 85 lawmakers in the 350-seat lower chamber have the king-maker role to break the seven-month political deadlock because an eventual agreement between Rajoy’s People’s Party and the pro-market Ciudadanos still would leave the acting premier short of a majority by at least seven votes. Nationalist parties from the Basque Country and Catalonia have refused to provide any support to Rajoy.

Under Spanish law, the candidate for prime minister needs the support of a majority of lawmakers to take office at the first vote. In a second ballot, 48 hours later, getting more votes in favor than against would be enough. In both cases, at least seven lawmakers would need to abstain or support Rajoy in addition to his backing from PP and Ciudadanos.

Budget Deficit

After having declined overtures to allow Rajoy to stay in office for a second term, Ciudadanos will begin negotiations if the PP accepts six conditions, including the creation of a parliamentary committee to probe a slush fund the PP is alleged to have used, Ciudadanos’s head Albert Rivera said in a Tuesday press conference. The PP’s executive committee will meet Aug. 17 to vote on the terms, Rajoy said.

Rivera’s change of stance is the biggest development since the general election in June, Spain’s second in six months, failed to produce a winner capable of forming support for a majority to pass next year’s spending plan, and to steer efforts to reduce the budget deficit.

The Socialist Party’s head of economic policies, Manuel de la Rocha, speaking in an interview with Cope radio on Aug. 7, opened the door to reconsider its refusal to support Rajoy if Ciudadanos softens its stance on the subject. Other party officials have yet to confirm that position.

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