Vastavam web: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy admitted defeat today ahead of a no-confidence vote which was certain to topple him, paving the way for a takeover by opposition leader Pedro Sanchez, his arch rival.”It’s been an honour — there is none bigger — to have been Spain’s prime minister,” he told parliament after congratulating Sanchez, with lawmakers from his conservative Popular Party (PP) giving him a standing ovation.
Barring any last-minute U-turn, an absolute majority of lawmakers, among them Catalan separatists and Basque nationalists, will vote through a no-confidence motion filed last week by the Socialists following a corruption scandal involving the PP.In order to push through the no-confidence motion, the Socialists, who hold just 84 of the parliament’s 350 seats, have had to cosy up to parties they have previously clashed with, like Catalan separatists and the anti-establishment Podemos.As such, even if he has pledged to govern long enough to restore “institutional stability,” Sanchez’s new government will likely be highly unstable.
Aitor Esteban of the Basque PNV nationalist party, whose support proved decisive for the motion’s success, said yesterday such a minority government would be “weak and difficult, complicated.” “This is going to be a constant bing, bang, boom.” Rajoy is set to become the first Spanish premier to lose a no-confidence vote since the country transitioned to democracy after the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.He put Spain back onto the path of growth after a devastating economic crisis although unemployment remains sky-high, jobs precarious and many complain inequalities have risen.
But his term in office was also marred by a series of corruption scandals involving former PP members.And it was another graft scandal that prompted the Socialists to table the no-confidence motion after a court said it had uncovered a vast system of bribes given to former PP officials in exchange for lucrative public contracts between 1999 and 2005.Rajoy became Spain’s first sitting prime minister to give evidence in a trial when he was called as a witness last year.
In its ruling, the court said the credibility of Rajoy’s testimony “should be questioned”.During yesterday’s debate, Rajoy said the corruption case “does not concern members of the government” and repeated the party’s argument that only a tiny number of its politicians have been tainted by corruption.”The PP has had corrupt people, I acknowledge it but the PP is not a corrupt party,” he said, hitting back at the Socialists, who have also been tainted by scandal over the years.