MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Monday he would not seek to stay on as prime minister if his People's Party (PP) wasn't the most popular in the general election in December.
"If my party does not win the most votes, I won't try to be prime minister," Rajoy said during a press conference to close parliament before the election and formally call the election.
The PP, with Rajoy at the helm, has enjoyed an absolute parliamentary majority since winning the election from the Socialists at the end of 2011. However a crushing economic crisis, unpopular austerity measures and massive unemployment has seen the PP loose support in the polls.
Rajoy's cabinet agreed to dissolve parliament on Monday, official paving the way for an election on Dec. 20 which is likely to be one of the most closely-fought in over three decades and could herald a new era of coalitions.
Voting intention polls show new parties such as center-right Ciudadanos and anti-austerity Podemos have gained ground at the expense of the traditional right and left, the PP and the Socialists.
In the latest of such polls in the conservative newspaper ABC, the PP would still win the election with 27.7 percent of the vote, or 131 seats compared to its current 186 seats.
(Reporting by Tomas Cobos; Writing by Paul Day; Editing by Toby Chopra)