Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, lived to fight another day on Wednesday when an attempt to end his minority conservative government failed.
In only the third ‘no confidence’ motion tabled against a government since Spain’s post-dictatorship democracy started exactly forty years ago, Rajoy secured the support of 170 MPs, against 82 who voted in favour of the motion and 97 abstentions.
The motion was tabled by radical left-wing party Podemos to unseat the ruling Partido Popular (PP) party. Podemos’ leader, Pablo Iglesias, had said that the government should be changed after the continued corruption scandals involving the PP party.
In the end, after Iglesias’ no confidence vote had failed, as had been expected, both Podemos and PP were able to claim victory.
Podemos, which was supported in the vote by left-wing Catalonian and Basque nationalists as well as its own regional affiliates, was heartened that the Socialist PSOE party had abstained rather than vote against.
The PSOE party, under the renewed leadership of Pedro Sánchez, is seen as more in favour of a “progressive alliance” with Podemos to unseat the PP. The Socialists celebrate their 39th full-party conference this weekend.
Iglesias said after the vote in the Congreso de los Diputados in Madrid, “Between votes in favour and abstentions, there’s a sufficient majority to throw out the PP. Let’s hope by Christmas we can get rid of the PP.”
The events in parliament come exactly forty years since Spaniards went to the polls in the first general election after Franco’s dictatorship ended.
Faced with pressure from a promised, illegal independence vote in Catalonia in October, many MPs who supported Rajoy in Wednesday’s failed vote called on politicians to respect the consensus over the shape of Spain reached after dictatorship.