Spain PM Rajoy pushing to form coalition after divided vote

AP News
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Posted: Dec 29, 2015 9:26 AM
Spain PM Rajoy pushing to form coalition after divided vote

MADRID (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed Tuesday to push forward with negotiations to try to form a coalition government, after a Dec. 20 national election gave his Popular Party the most votes but left it far short of a parliamentary majority.

Rajoy said he wants to cobble together a lower house of parliament controlled by a majority that can easily pass important legislation — but he avoided mentioning by names the parties he would seek to recruit as partners for his center-right Popular Party.

The best option is "the formation of a government with broad parliamentary support that can govern, can build trust inside and outside of Spain and provides stability," Rajoy said.

He made it clear that he opposes any alliance with the far-left Podemos party because it wants to let voters in the Catalonia region decide if they want to secede from Spain.

But Rajoy didn't mention the names of the main opposition Socialist Party or the new, business friendly Ciudadanos party he would need to get the kind of big governing majority he said he wants.

Though Ciudadanos is a closer ideological fit for the Popular Party, it didn't win enough seats to allow it to band together alone with the Popular Party for a parliamentary majority. The Socialists have so far ruled out joining together with Rajoy and his party.

The Popular Party won 123 seats in the 350-member lower house of parliament — down from the 186 it got in 2011.

The Socialists won 90 seats, followed by Podemos and allies with 69 and Ciudadanos with 40. The remaining 28 seats went to six small parties.

Spain's King Felipe VI next month will hold talks with party leaders and nominate one for government.

But the nominated party leader must then win the leadership vote of confidence in Parliament to take office. If there is still deadlock after two months, the monarch would call a new election.