Spain PM Mariano Rajoy faces defeat in Friday no-confidence vote

Spain PM Mariano Rajoy faces defeat in Friday no-confidence vote

Spain PM Mariano Rajoy faces defeat in Friday no-confidence vote

Spanish lawmakers on Friday voted to oust Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, paving the way for the leader of the center-left Socialists, Pedro Sanchez, to take his job.

Bar any last minute u-turns, this will be the first time since Spain transitioned back to democracy after the 1975 death of Francisco Franco that a prime minister is toppled by a vote of no-confidence.

Sanchez ousted Rajoy on Friday by narrowly winning a no-confidence vote in parliament following corruption convictions linked to the outgoing leader's Popular Party.

Two Catalan pro-independence parties as well as Podemos also backed Sanchez.

Rajoy became Spain's first sitting prime minister to give evidence in a trial when he was called as a witness past year, prompting calls for him to resign.

Rajoy told the Spanish parliament that he was proud of his record as prime minister in brief remarks ahead of the vote.

Mr Sanchez, 46, is expected to take office by Monday after King Felipe VI swears him in, and appoint his cabinet next week.

The motion, called by Mr Sanchez, won 180 votes for, 169 against and one abstention.

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Last week the National Court, which deals with major criminal cases, sentenced 29 people with links to the PP, including a former treasurer, to a total of 351 years in jail.

Mr Sánchez tabled the motion of no confidence after the PP was implicated in a huge corruption scandal. It also ordered the party to pay back €245,000 (US$290,000) received from the scheme to help finance election campaigns.

"Mr. Sanchez will be the head of the government and let me be the first to congratulate him", Rajoy reportedly told deputies before the no-confidence vote was cast.

But it is unclear how long his administration, with only 84 Socialist deputies in the 350-member legislative assembly, can last.

In a bid to secure the PNV's support, Sanchez vowed to stick to Rajoy's 2018 budget, which included concessions to the Basque Country and an increase in pensions demanded by the tiny party.

Leftist Podemos, which will offer parliamentary support to Sanchez's government, is also unlikely to gain big influence over the new prime minister, who is keen to differentiate his Socialist party from its anti-austerity ally and win back centrist voters.

After years of anger over the scandals tainting the PP, corruption finally got the better of the party and sealed Rajoy's downfall. Judges did not find that current government members had committed any wrongdoing. "With what moral authority do you speak?" he told Sanchez.

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