ACTING prime minister Mariano Rajoy claimed on Thursday that he had taken a “decisive step” towards forming a new government, after he accepted the conditions laid out by Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera in exchange for his party’s support.
Having expressed fears that Spain would become the ‘laughing stock’ of Europe if a third general election was called, Rajoy was expected to accept Rivera’s terms, despite unease within the Partido Popular (PP) that such a move could eventually see senior party officials prosecuted for corruption.
Now that he has pledged to accept Rivera’s conditions, Rajoy said he would contact the speaker of the parliament later on Thursday to discuss setting a date for his investiture vote, a key demand from Ciudadanos.
“I am in a position to attend the investiture session when the speaker of Congress believes it to be opportune,” Rajoy told reporters, while Rivera was upbeat after their meeting, telling press: “At least this clears a path, a blocked one, the only one possible, so that we can all forget about third elections.”
Combining the PP’s 137 seats with Ciudadanos’ 32 still leaves the emergent coalition short of reaching the 176 required for a simple majority, meaning the ball now lies firmly in the court of Pedro Sanchez and the PSOE.
The Socialists have pledged to actively oppose Rajoy’s appointment as prime minister at any investiture vote, but will be under intensified pressure to simply abstain, allowing the PP to form a government and spare Spain the embarrassment of another election.