Rajoy Flexes Policy Muscles With Government for Spain in Sight

  • Rajoy wouldn’t seek conditions for Socialists to abstain
  • Socialists hurt by internal revolt against ex-leader Sanchez

Mariano Rajoy is setting out his stall as Spain’s likely next prime minister by stressing his policy objectives for when he finally takes office again.

In a speech in Torremolinos in Southern Spain, the caretaker premier spelled out plans for a shake-up of the justice system as he stressed the need to swear in a new government as soon as possible.

“As soon as we can count on having a government, we must push ahead with this strategic reform for this country,” Rajoy said Thursday.

Rajoy is asserting himself in his role as Spain’s likely prime minister-in waiting as his rivals in the Socialist party soften their stance towards allowing him to govern to avoid a third general election. Opinion polls predicting further losses for the Socialists in the event of a fresh vote have strengthened Rajoy’s hand as he explores seeking a confidence vote in parliament before the end of the month.

Former Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez resigned at the weekend after an internal revolt against his attempt to call on party rank-and-file members to back his refusal to allow Rajoy to govern under any circumstances.

Rajoy on Thursday said he wouldn’t seek to extract further concessions from the Socialists as he presses ahead with his efforts to form a government. Rafael Hernando, the head of Rajoy’s People’s Party group in parliament, had earlier said the Socialists should back key legislation such as a budget bill.

Rajoy needs to secure the support of an additional six deputies or the abstention of 11 to ensure he could win a confidence vote. In a failed attempt last month, he won 170 seats by adding votes from the liberals of Ciudadanos and a Canary Islands lawmaker to those of his 137 People’s Party deputies.

Javier Fernandez, the Socialists’ acting leader, told broadcaster La Sexta Thursday that he thought Rajoy’s stance in not trying to impose terms on the Socialists was reasonable and that sometimes politicians had to strive for a “lesser evil.”

Two polls published Monday showed the Socialists would drop behind anti-austerity party Podemos if Spaniards were called upon to vote again in December.

A GAD3 survey of 3,400 people conducted Sept. 5 to Sept. 30 projected the Socialists would lose 17 seats to take their total to 68 with Podemos winning 69 and the PP close to a majority with 159. A SocioMetrica poll from Sept. 26 to Sept. 30 showed the Socialists on 72, Podemos on 75 and the PP on 140.

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