Spain's PM says he's ready for parliament investiture vote

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2016 12:26 PM
Spain's PM says he's ready for parliament investiture vote

MADRID (AP) — Spain's acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy will try to persuade Parliament to let him form a government in a debate scheduled to begin Aug. 30, officials announced Thursday.

Ana Pastor, the Speaker of Parliament, announced the date after conservative Popular Party leader Rajoy clinched a deal with a smaller party to support his bid to return to power.

But Rajoy's attempt to collect enough votes from lawmakers to end eight months of political deadlock following two inconclusive elections looks doomed. His own party and the business-friendly Ciudadanos party together don't have enough seats in Parliament to get him the majority he needs so Rajoy still requires the abstention or support of other parties to get through, and the parliamentary debate could last days or weeks.

Describing Thursday's talks with Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera as "a decisive step" toward forming a government and avoiding a third round of elections, Rajoy said the two parties would begin Friday negotiating legislative reforms demanded by Ciudadanos as part of its deal to support Rajoy.

Rajoy said he had also accepted a package of six conditions presented by Ciudadanos last week as a prerequisite for any negotiations. The conditions 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.

Rajoy's Popular Party, in power since 2011, won a June 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 pledged to vote against Rajoy, which would scuttle any chance of him taking power.

The June election followed a December ballot which also failed to produce a government.

If Rajoy fails in his latest attempt, Spain will likely face months more of his caretaker government and possibly a third election.

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Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal contributed to this report.