Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy set for Parliament defeat in no confidence vote

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Mariano Rajoy/Twitter
CRUNCH DAY: Rajoy faces the vote later today

MARIANO RAJOY, Spain’s Prime Minister, looks set to be defeated in a vote of censure (no confidence) today after opposition parties agreed to back his ousting yesterday.

The no confidence motion, put forward by the left-leaning Partido Socialista (PSOE), came in the wake of the Gurtel kickback-for-contracts scandal.

Lawmakers spent yesterday debating the motion in the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of Parliament. They have met again today to continue the debate with the vote scheduled for afterwards.

Rajoy’s speech yesterday gained him a standing ovation from his ruling conservative Partido Popular (PP) colleagues. He said PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez was seeking to get into government by bypassing the ballot box with the motion.

“Mr Sanchez is concerned because he is not doing any better in the polls, and he has realised that he will never reach government through elections,” he said.

He added the PSOE had also had their share of corruption scandals and questioned the party’s and its leader’s sincerity in calling the no confidence vote.

“Tell us, why are four courts investigating the Valencia socialists? Can you boast about zero corruption? This is just about Mr Sanchez’s ambitions,” he said.

“His only clear idea is that he needs to be the Prime Minster, but for how long, and to do what?”

Sanchez’s turn to speak came afterward. He called on Rajoy to leave office voluntarily rather than face the no confidence vote.

“Resign, Mr Rajoy, and it will all be over. Your time is up.”

“The time has come, there is no middle-of-the-road way to raise the quality of our democracy, which is now being questioned,” he said.

Sanchez laid out his stall for after the vote if he were successful. He said his party would seek to establish a political consensus before calling an election.

“We will call a national election so the citizens can decide on the roadmap for this country,” he said.

The speeches were followed by the PSOE’s courting of the various other parties in the Congress in order to secure their backing for the motion.

The centrist Ciudadanos party, which previously supported the PP minority government in Parliament prior to the Gutel scandal, ruled out backing the motion instead calling for early elections.

This meant Sanchez had to get the backing of smaller, regionalist parties such as the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the regionalist Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT).

The leaders of both parties confirmed they would support the motion yesterday evening. The PSOE also had the support of the far left Podemos party which had previously called for a no confidence vote against Rajoy.

Lawmakers have again today to conclude the no confidence debate and to hold the vote on the motion of censure. Current forecasts suggest the motion will pass in the 350-member Congress by 180 votes, a majority of four.

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