Spain's former Socialist leader steps down as MP in protest over Rajoy premiership vote

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By Euronews
Spain's former Socialist leader steps down as MP in protest over Rajoy premiership vote

The former leader of Spain’s Socialist PSOE party has renounced his seat in parliament and says he won’t take part in a confidence vote widely expected to result in the reelection as prime minister of the Popular Party’s (PP) Mariano Rajoy.

Pedro Sanchez announced his decision hours ahead of the poll, saying he won’t go against his party – which has vowed to abstain from voting – nor will he play a part in putting Rajoy back at the head of government.

“Over the weeks I have had to meditate over the defence of different values and levels of responsibility,” he announced.

“And this decision has not been easy for someone like me, who loves politics as force of change and feels the Socialist colours.”

Rajoy lost the first investiture vote by six seats on Thursday (October 27), but an abstention by the currently-leaderless Socialists would likely see him win tonight’s ballot (October 29) and form a minority government.

The PSOE’s strategy is expected to break the political stalemate in Spain following two inconclusive elections in just 10 months.

Rajoy seems likely to gain the support of his 137 PP MPs in the 350 seat Congress. This would make his party the smallest governing group in the nation’s democratic history.

Some PSOE supporters argue the situation will put Rajoy in a difficult position, thus strengthening the power of the opposition. They claim it will give the opposition the leeway to bring about changes in laws they consider detrimental to the Spanish people.

With 85 MPs, the Socialists could ally themselves with other groups and, effectively force the PP to accept their proposals. If Rajoy refuses, a vote of no-confidence could be called, followed by a snap election.