Spanish pollies opt for new PM
SPANISH Socialist party leader Pedro Sanchez is set to become Spain’s new prime minister after a no-confidence vote in parliament unseated Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government.
Mr Sanchez, until now the leader of the largest opposition party, will be sworn in by King Felipe VI as soon as possible and appoint his cabinet over the coming days. The incoming leader vowed to address Spain’s “social urgencies” after years of austerity.
Mr Sanchez, 46, takes the helm of the 19- country eurozone’s fourth- largest economy as the European Union faces numerous problems, including Britain’s departure from the bloc and political tension over refugees from North Africa.
On the domestic front, he will head a minority government that will probably need to negotiate difficult deals with other parties to get its legislation passed.
To prevent a power vacuum after a no-confidence motion, Spanish law makes the motion’s author — in this case, Mr Sanchez — the country’s new leader as soon as the king swears him in.
The Madrid stock exchange was up 1.8 per cent after he won the vote and he earned a standing ovation from his party’s politicians.
The end of Mr Rajoy’s term as Spanish prime minister after more than six years was the first ouster of a serving leader by parliament in four decades of democracy and brought a rare success for a centre-left party in Europe in recent times.
Mr Rajoy went to shake hands with Mr Sanchez after the result was announced. He made brief remarks before the vote, telling his peers “it has been an honour to leave Spain better than I found it”.
Mr Rajoy has been in power since December 2011, successfully steering Spain out of its worst economic crisis in decades during the eurozone debt crisis and achieving some of the strongest economic growth in Europe. Last year, gross domestic product growth reached 3.1 per cent.
But the reputation of Mr Rajoy’s Popular Party was badly damaged by a court verdict last week that identified it as a beneficiary of a large kickbacks-for-contracts scheme.
Mr Sanchez saw that as his opening and managed to muster enough support from smaller parties to send him to La Moncloa palace, the seat of government in Madrid.
Mr Sanchez and his party are staunch supporters of the EU and the continent’s shared currency. He will be Spain’s seventh prime minister since the country returned to democracy in the late 1970s.
Pedro Sanchez shakes hands with outgoing Mariano Rajoy.