• Spain's news in English
Spanish MPs reject Rajoy in first confidence vote
Rajoy lost the first confidence vote on Wednesday night, Photo: AFP

Spanish MPs reject Rajoy in first confidence vote

The Local · 1 Sep 2016, 09:18

Published: 01 Sep 2016 09:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Rajoy, the leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), lost the vote of confidence with 189 votes against and 170 in favour after an often acrimonious debate in parliament.

He needed an absolute majority of 176 seats in the 350-seat assembly but was backed only by his own party, the centrist Ciudadanos and a lone MP from the Canary Islands.

The PP, in power since 2011, won the most seats in elections held in December and June but fell short of an absolute majority both times as voters angry over corruption and austerity flocked to new formations.

Another confidence vote will be held on Friday in which Rajoy only needs more votes in favour than against but there is little to indicate he will win that one either.

The Socialists, who came second in the polls, have steadfastly refused to back Rajoy. Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez told the assembly Rajoy "has no credibility".

If there is no breakthrough two months after Wednesday's parliamentary ballot, vote-weary Spaniards will be asked to return to the polls on December 25th - the date determined by timings laid out in Spanish election law.

But the Socialists and other parties have already proposed shortening the campaign so a repeat election could be held on December 18, in a sign that fresh polls are looming.

"Given the parties' entrenched positions, a third round of elections" is now the most likely scenario, said Antonio Barroso, a Spanish political analyst at Teneo Intelligence, a think tank in London.

'Damage to democracy'

Rajoy accused the Socialists of "stubbornly wanting new elections" and warned the political deadlock risks jeopardising Spain's economy and even raises questions about democracy.

"It is hard to think of anything that could cause more damage to Spanish democracy than telling citizens that their vote has been useless on two occasions and that a general election needs to be held for a third time," he said.

Spain suffered a painful economic slump when a housing bubble burst in 2008 but has bounced back to become of the eurozone's most dynamic economies, growing for 12 straight quarters.

But the political stalemate has begun to show signs of taking its toll on the economy.

Although Rajoy remains in office as acting prime minister, he has no power to propose legislation or spend on new infrastructure projects such as roads and railways.

Spain's public works ministry and the state companies it oversees spent 20 percent less on contracts in the first six months of this year than they did in 2015.

The lack of a fully-functioning government has also delayed the drafting of a 2017 budget, which needs to be approved by mid-October to comply with European Union rules.

Voter frustration

Story continues below…

And weary voters are growing increasingly frustrated with politicians and their inability to compromise to form a government.  

"They are have no shame, they only look after their own good, not the good of the country," said Jesus Ruiz, a 48-year-old builder as he repaired a fountain near the 17th century palace in Madrid that houses the foreign ministry.

One factor that could change the political calculus is the result of regional elections in the Basque Country on September 25th.  

The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has five seats, could support Rajoy nationally if it needs the backing of the PP to govern in the Basque Country following the regional polls.

The PNV has backed minority PP governments in the past but Rajoy angered the party during a debate in parliament by focusing on the defence of Spanish unity.

"You did not make a minimal effort to win our support," Aitor Esteban, a party MP told Rajoy in parliament.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Man rescued from bin after climbing in find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
jobs available