Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated on Tuesday that he will be the Popular Party (PP) candidate for prime minister should he fail to be able to form a new government and new general elections have to be called.
While he said he doesn’t want to have to hold a new race next year, Rajoy explained that he would try to form a government with “a stable majority” among parties who share the PP’s version of a united Europe, and who are concerned about economic growth and jobs.
My intention is to go to the debate of investiture and then see what events come afterwards” Acting PM Rajoy
During a news conference in which he gave a year-end review of his administration, Rajoy didn’t mention the Socialists or Ciudadanos by name. But it was clear that the message was directed toward these two parties, especially when he predicted that his new government could have more than 200 seats in the Congress.
No political group emerged with the necessary 176-seat absolute majority at the December 20 elections.
Both Socialist secretary general Pedro Sánchez and Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera have told Rajoy in separate meetings that they are against him staying on as prime minister and would either vote against him or abstain.
But if they eventually agree to a coalition, the three parties would have a combined 223 seats in Congress.
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of left-wing anti-austerity Podemos, which has emerged as the third political force, told Rajoy on Monday that he won’t support a PP government because Rajoy’s last term was plagued with corruption and inequality.
“If we are not mistaken and we can form a government with an ample majority, I believe we will have a period of stability,” Rajoy said, without offering any details.
While realizing that new elections would be “bad news,” the acting prime minister also explained that a government formed by various leftist parties “is not the best option for Spaniards” and will “fail to generate confidence here or abroad.”
When asked if his option for a stable government would be a grand coalition between the Socialists and Ciudadanos, who may support his investiture as prime minister, Rajoy responded saying that the best formula would be a government with the broadest representation as possible.
If we can form a government with an ample majority, we will have a period of stability”
“My intention is to go to the investiture debate and then see what events take place afterwards,” he said, adding that the idea of him stepping aside to allow another candidate to take his place as prime minister “isn’t even on the table.”
Rajoy said that he has been in contact with Basque Country regional premier, the lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), and didn’t rule out future discussions with other minor parties, with the exception of pro-independence Catalan groups.
“I haven’t even thought about that, because it is difficult to seek the support of parties that want to break up Spain,” he said.
During his year-end review, Rajoy predicted that Spain will close out the year with 3.2% growth and 600,000 new jobs.
When questioned the acting prime minister declined to comment on the internal struggle inside the Socialist Party, whereby many have questioned whether Sánchez should stay on as secretary general.
“The Socialists will decide for themselves what is best for them without me having to offer my two cents,” he said.
English version by Martin Delfín.