Netizen 24 CAN: Socialist opposition leader set to become Spanish PM after conservative ousted

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Socialist opposition leader set to become Spanish PM after conservative ousted

Socialist opposition leader set to become Spanish PM after conservative oustedSocialist leader Pedro Sanchez will become Spain's new prime minister after a no-confidence vote in parliament unseated Mariano Rajoy's conservative government.

PM Mariano Rajoy toppled by no-confidence vote over corruption case

Spain's ousted Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy looks down as he leaves parliament following a no-confidence vote in Madrid. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

Socialist party Leader Pedro Sanchez is set to become Spain's new prime minister after a no-confidence vote in parliament Friday unseated Mariano Rajoy's conservative government.

Sanchez, until now the head of Spain's largest opposition party, could be sworn in by King Fe lipe VI as early as Saturday and will appoint his cabinet over the coming days.

The 46-year-old takes the helm of the eurozone's fourth-largest economy at a time when the European Union has to resolve numerous problems, including Britain's impending departure from the bloc and political tensions over the tens of thousands of migrants who are still entering the continent from North Africa.

On the domestic front, Sanchez will head a minority government that will need to negotiate potentially difficult deals with other parties to get its legislation passed.

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To prevent a power vacuum after a no-confidence motion, Spanish law makes the motion's author â€" in this case, Sanchez â€" the country's new leader as soon as the king swears him in.

The end of Rajoy's more than six-year reign as Spanish prime minister was the first ouster of a serving leader by the country's parliament in four decades of democracy.

Rajoy went to shake hands with Sanchez after the result was announced.

Rajoy, left, shakes hands with the leader of the Spanish Workers' Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez, right, after the no-confidence motion was passed at the lower house in the Spanish parliament in Madrid. (Emilio Naranjo/EPA-EFE)

It also was a rare success for a centre-left party in Europe in recent times. Sanchez and his party are staunch supporters of the EU and the euro currency shared by 19 EU nations.

The reputation of 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.

Sanchez saw t hat 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.

The Madrid stock exchange was up nearly 1.6 per cent after Sanchez won the vote, earning a standing ovation from his party's lawmakers.

Reversal of fortunes

Sanchez, who will be Spain's seventh prime minister since the country's return to democracy in the late 1970s, arrives in power after a spectacular turnaround in his political fortunes.

He was ousted by his own party's heavyweights in 2016 over back-to-back losses in general elections and after he tried to block Rajoy's bid to form a government.

The former economics professor regained the Socialists' leadership last year.

Sanchez stands in the Spanish parliament after Friday's no-confidence vote. (Sergio Perez/Reuters )

The incoming prime minister has outlined that his priorities will be social issues before calling elections, though he hasn't said when there might be a vote.

Sanchez vowed Friday to address the "social urgencies" of Spaniards after years of austerity under the conservative government of Rajoy, telling reporters in Madrid that he was "aware of the responsibility and the complex political moment of our country."

He also vowed to build consensus among political parties to "transform and modernize" Spain and "address the social urgencies of many people who suffer precariousness and inequality."

Challenges ahead

Sanchez faces a tough time, however, catering to demands from small nationalist parties whose votes he captured in the no-confidence motion, among them Catalan separatists.

A new Catalan cabinet is scheduled to regain the prosperous region's self-government on Saturd ay, ending a seven-month takeover by central authorities in Madrid over the separatists bid to secede from Spain.

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In a reversal from Rajoy's aversion to Catalonia's aspirations for greater autonomy, Sanchez has promised to open a dialogue with new Catalan President Quim Torra despite having called the fervent separatist's comments "xenophobic."

The centre-right Ciudadanos party is also vowing fierce opposition to the incoming minority Socialist government, and is urging Sanchez to call an early general election.

Sanchez has promised to call a new election before the end of this term in 2020.

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