MADRID (AP) — Spain's acting prime minister said Wednesday that his party has authorized him to negotiate a pact with a small party as part of his bid to end the eight-month political deadlock and form a new government.
But Mariano Rajoy gave no indication that he intended to ask parliament anytime soon for a vote of confidence that would allow him to take power.
Rajoy said he would begin talks with business-friendly Ciudadanos, but stressed that his Popular Party hadn't discussed a package of conditions Ciudadanos had set as a requisite for any negotiations, and which had earlier been expected to be debated at his party's meeting Wednesday. One of the conditions was that Rajoy should set a date for an investiture vote.
Rajoy's conservative Popular Party, in power since 2011, has been running a caretaker government since December after two inconclusive elections.
"This situation can't go on for much longer. It's doing Spain no good," he said, adding that if his party is unable to form a government, a third round of elections may be unavoidable this fall.
The Popular Party won the last election with 137 seats, 39 short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament. The Socialist party was second with 85 seats, the left-wing alliance, Unidos Podemos, was third with 71 seats and Ciudadanos fourth with 32 seats.
The Socialists, Unidos Podemos and other smaller parties have said they will vote against Rajoy in a confidence vote, which would end any chance of him taking power regardless of whether Ciudadanos backs him.
There is no deadline for a parliamentary vote to be held.
The Ciudadanos conditions also included an electoral law reform and anti-corruption and transparency measures, including scrapping legal immunity for deputies and a commission to investigate allegations that former Popular Party treasurers ran a slush fund.