Spanish prime minister ousted after no-confidence vote

In the first no-confidence vote since Spain’s transition to democracy in 1977, Spanish lawmakers voted to oust Partido Popular (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday.

Mr. Rajoy has served as prime minister since 2011 and as PP leader since 2004.

Eventually toppled by a slim 180–169 margin, acknowledging defeat ahead of the vote Rajoy said:

“It has been an honor to be president of the government and to leave Spain better than how I found it. Thanks to all of you and my party. And to all Spaniards for their understanding and support.”

Rajoy was replaced by Spanish Workers’ Socialist Party General Secretary Pedro Sanchez.  Sanchez, who had previously represented Madrid in non-consecutive terms in Spain’s Congress of Deputies, is not currently a member of parliament.

Following his elevation to the premiership, Sanchez tweeted:

“Democracy in Spain opens a new page. A stage to regain the dignity of the institutions. From responsibility, dialogue and consensus, it is time to work for equality, to build a country that does not leave anyone on the road.”

The culmination of repeated calls for his resignation and surviving a prior no-confidence vote, Rajoy’s downfall is tied to the Gurtel case, a corruption scandal which consumed 29 PP officials and businessmen, including former PP treasurer, Luis Barcenas.

The second no-confidence vote tabled against Rajoy in less than a year, momentum for Rajoy’s removal in Spanish parliament flourished after a May 24 ruling in which Barcenas received a 33-year sentence for bribery, money laundering and tax fraud.

Although never implicated in the scandal, Rajoy was called to testify in the case in July 2017.

His victory the result of cobbling together a shaky coalition of six parties, Sanchez will rule in the minority:  His Socialists hold 84 seats in chamber of 350.

Confronted with an improving economy but still facing high unemployment, Sanchez is expected to move away from austerity policies, open dialogue with Catalonia’s separatists and remain committed to the European Union.

 

[BBC] [Euro Weekly News] [Photo courtesy EFE/JJ Guillen via elPeriódico]