Spain: Rajoy to begin bid to form gov't but calendar unclear

AP News
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Posted: Jul 29, 2016 5:21 AM

MADRID (AP) — Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was to begin calling opposition party leaders Friday in a bid to get badly needed parliamentary support after accepting the king's petition to try to form a government following last month's inconclusive elections.

Rajoy was designated by King Felipe VI late Thursday as the monarch ended three days of consultations with party leaders aimed at snapping a seven-month political deadlock following inconclusive elections in December and June.

But Rajoy but did not make it clear if he would definitely present himself before parliament for the necessary approval should he be unable to muster enough parliamentary backing, creating considerable uncertainty about when Spain might have its next government.

"I will do all in my power to see that Spain has a new government," he said, but noted "it doesn't just depend on me."

Rajoy's conservative Popular Party, in power since 2011 and now running a caretaker government, won most seats in both elections but lacks a majority and has virtually no outside support.

Spain could face months more of caretaker government under Rajoy pending negotiations and a possible third election this fall if he fails.

The Popular Party won 137 parliamentary seats in June, 39 short of a majority.

The leader of Spain's next government requires either a majority of parliamentary votes or, if unable to reach that threshold, more votes cast in favor than against in a second vote. As the situation stands, Rajoy would lose in both scenarios, because most opposition parties are committed to vote against him, not merely abstain.

A minority government could be formed if other parties agree to abstain, rather than vote against. So far, only the centrist Ciudadanos party that finished fourth has indicated that it is willing to abstain.

The second-place Socialists, who could facilitate a minority government by also abstaining, have pledged to vote against.