Spanish opposition leader expected to oust PM Mariano Rajoy

Jun 05, 2018, 02:20
Spanish opposition leader expected to oust PM Mariano Rajoy

"We're going to sign a new page in the history of democracy in our country", Sanchez said.

In a brief speech before the vote, Rajoy told lawmakers "it has been an honor to leave Spain better than I found it".

Sanchez, the leader of the socialist PSOE party, became the designated prime minister after Rajoy's government was ousted in a vote of no confidence.

However, with just 84 PSOE deputies in Spain's 350-seat parliament, maintaining that stance may prove hard.

The no confidence motion, put forward by the left-leaning Partido Socialista (PSOE), came in the wake of the Gurtel kickback-for-contracts scandal. MPs from the anti-establishment Podemos party shouted: "Yes you can!" as he was named prime minister.

On the domestic front, Sanchez will head a minority government that will need to negotiate potentially hard deals with other parties to get its legislation passed.

Rajoy was in attendance at the ceremony held in the royal Zarzuela Palace and shook Sanchez's hand after the new leader was sworn in by King Felipe VI before they posed for a photo with the monarch along with the speakers of the lower Congress of Deputies and the Senate. The vote, which required a simple majority, ended with 180 in favor of ousting Rajoy, 169 against and one abstention.

Meanwhile, Catalan authorities announced their new cabinet on Friday, paving the way for Madrid to end direct rule over the region by excluding four nominees under investigation for their role in its independence drive.

Qvortrup said the corruption scandal could force a "change of guard" within Rajoy's party and warned that Spain's new leader would struggle to form a government due to opposition within his own party and beyond.

Rajoy became Spain's first sitting prime minister to give evidence in a trial when he was called as a witness previous year.

Under a Spanish law that prevents a power vacuum, Mr Sanchez would immediately become the new leader of the 19-country eurozone's fourth biggest economy and a prominent European Union leader at a time when the bloc faces numerous challenges.

Sanchez promised to abide by a national budget recently negotiated by Rajoy.

The no-confidence motion made unusual bedfellows of 22 widely divergent parliamentary groups, including anti-establishment left-wing national parties, the political arm of the now-defunct armed Basque separatist group ETA, and regional Catalan nationalist parties hankering to negotiate an independent Catalan republic.

The National Court, which deals with major criminal cases, sentenced 29 people with links to the PP, including a former treasurer, to jail.

The country's new leader will preside over a minority government propped up by the leftist Podemos bloc and other parties, including Basque and Catalan nationalists.

Sanchez's Socialist Party (PSOE) secured enough cross-party parliamentary support, including from Basque and Catalan nationalist parties, to push through the no-confidence motion. At the time, Sanchez said the PP was too corrupt to run the country.

Also, the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party - which has been leading recent opinion polls - is demanding a snap election and is vowing fierce opposition to Sanchez.

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