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Mariano Rajoy Ousted in Spanish No-Confidence Vote

The no-confidence vote follows one-and-a-half days of tense parliamentary debate, whose turning point came Thursday afternoon, when the Basque nationalists agreed to join Catalan separatist lawmakers in voting against Mr. Rajoy. That about-face came only a week after the same Basque lawmakers used their pivotal votes to approve Mr. Rajoy’s new national budget, which includes a generous financial deal for the Basques. Mr. Sánchez promised the Basques that he would keep Mr. Rajoy’s budget untouched.

During the debate, Mr. Sánchez also pledged to hold talks with the Catalan separatist politicians who have been at loggerheads with Mr. Rajoy for years. But he didn’t say how he planned to resolve a territorial conflict that has become more tense since Catalonia’s Parliament voted last October r to secede from Spain, an unconstitutional move that Mr. Rajoy blocked, before imposing a period of home rule over the region.

Mr. Sánchez’s expected takeover in Madrid coincides with the start of a new separatist administration in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, following the recent election of Quim Torra as regional president. To start a new chapter, Mr. Sánchez told lawmakers, Catalonia now needs “political solutions to a political crisis.”

The nomination of Mr. Sánchez as prime minister caps a remarkable comeback. Last year, he was unexpectedly re-elected to the leadership of his Socialist party, seven months after being ousted in a party revolt and abandoning his seat in Parliament.

During the parliamentary debate, Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos, repeatedly voiced his frustration at Mr. Rajoy for not resigning or calling a snap election. Mr. Rajoy was not in Parliament to listen, however, instead spending more than seven hours on Thursday in a Madrid restaurant.

Mr. Rivera also accused Mr. Sánchez of taking office through the back door — without first getting elected by voters — and of forming what he called a “Frankenstein government,” reliant on far-left politicians and regional parties that want to break up Spain.

“I cannot understand, Mr. Sánchez, that you and your Socialist party have reached out and formed alliances with parties of this kind,” Mr. Rivera said in Parliament. “No political career is more important than Spain.”

Source: NYT > World

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