Spain to get government following 10 months in limbo

Mariano Rajoy of conservative People’s party is expected to be returned as PM

Spain to get government following 10 months in limbo

Spain's acting conservative Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, listens to a question during a news conference at the Moncloa palace in Madrid. | Image: Francisco Seco AP/Press Association Images

Spain is finally set to have a government again, following two inconclusive elections.

Mariano Rajoy, of the conservative People’s party (PP), is expected to be returned to office following a second investiture vote on Saturday, after the Spanish Socialist party (PSOE) chose to abstain to break the political paralysis and avoid a third election.

The PP failed to win an outright majority in elections in December 2015 and June last year, despite taking the most seats. The PSOE, which came second in both, had vociferously refused to do anything to ease Rajoy’s return as prime minister, until its leader Pedro Sánchez was ousted in an acrimonious uprising that has torn the party apart.

Sánchez had dismissed pleas from parts of the PSOE to allow the PP back into government, insisting that the latter was too deeply mired in a series of corruption scandals to be allowed to retake office.

He stood down as leader this month after losing a vote that would have allowed grassroots party members to back or sack him in a leadership contest.

After winning the 2011 election, Rajoy was forced to implement austerity policies as Spain endured a severe recession, unemployment soared to 27 percent and the country’s banks needed a €41 billion European bailout. Unlike in his first term, when his absolute majority meant he could afford to ignore the opposition, his conservative Popular Party now has only 137 seats in the 350-seat parliament and will depend on support from others.

The Socialists face a strong challenge for leadership of the left from the new anti-austerity Podemos party. The economy is improving but Rajoy must find a way to shrink Spain’s budget deficit to meet a 2017 target agreed with Brussels, a task which may require 5 billion euros of spending cuts or extra revenues.

Confirmation surrounding Rajoy's political status will be confirmed later this evening.