Rajoy Seals Ciudadanos Pact Ahead of Spain Confidence Vote

  • Accord brings votes backing Rajoy to 170 versus 176 needed
  • Socialists maintain refusal to allow PP government to form

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy sealed a pact with the liberal Ciudadanos party, strengthening his hand going into a round of voting to form a government without guaranteeing victory.

Rajoy’s People’s Party and Ciudadanos reached an agreement to pool votes before a confidence ballot starting Aug. 30, a spokeswoman for the PP said by phone. The accord will allow the PP to count on 170 votes, Rajoy said in a televised news conference. That’s still shy of the 176 votes needed for him to start a second term as prime minister after a first confidence vote.

Rajoy is seeking to win a mandate from lawmakers to end eight months of political deadlock and lead the new government he says Spain requires to secure its economic recovery, create jobs and meet commitments to the European Union to cut its budget deficit. He still needs at least some Socialist lawmakers to abstain if he’s going to form an administration after inconclusive elections in December and June.

“The economy is going well, but if we keep delaying the formation of government, we could start creating problems for the economy and the interests of Spaniards,” Rajoy said.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez has refused to budge on allowing Rajoy to govern, saying that he’ll play no part in facilitating a second PP term in power. Rajoy said he would meet Sanchez Monday in congress to make another push to persuade him to allow a government to form.

“I am going to say the same thing I have been saying since Dec. 21, but now with 170 seats,” Rajoy said. “We must find a way out of this situation, and some of us here have done our part.”

Rafael Hernando, the PP’s parliamentary spokesman, and Ciudadanos counterpart Juan Carlos Girauta signed the pact Sunday.

The agreement covers 150 policy points. They range from accords on making Spain’s judiciary less prone to political meddling, to ensuring that Spain claws back all the money it should from a tax amnesty and a pledge not to increase income tax.

The pact includes steps to combat corruption and agreements on how to fight social ills such as child poverty and violence against women. Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said he had already agreed to about two-thirds of its reforms in earlier accords with the Socialists.

Under Spanish law, a candidate for prime minister needs the support of a majority of lawmakers to take office in the first round of a confidence vote. In a second ballot, 48 hours later, a plurality would be enough.

The PP can now rely on the support of the 32 Ciudadanos deputies and backing from a Canary Islands party to give it a total 170 votes for the confidence motion in the 350-seat parliament. The Socialists have 85 seats.

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