Rajoy: “I am not an obstacle, the obstacle is Pedro Sánchez”

Spain’s acting PM calls on Socialist leader to reveal his plans to unblock political stalemate

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Thursday that he did not believe that he was the person who should be held responsible for preventing Spain’s main political parties from trying to form a new government.

Instead, the Popular Party leader blamed Socialist secretary general Pedro Sánchez for the current stalemate because he has not decided whom he will seek as his future political partners.

“I call on Sánchez to decide now whether he wants to govern with Podemos or will allow the PP to govern through different pacts”

Mariano Rajoy

“I am not an obstacle,” Rajoy said. “The obstacle here is Pedro Sánchez who wants to become prime minister. I call on him to make a decision and decide now whether he wants to govern with Podemos or will allow the PP to govern through different pacts.”

Rajoy announced last week that he would not take up King Felipe’s offer to present his candidacy at the upcoming investiture session because he did not have enough congressional support.

The PP won 123 seats in the December 20 general election, far from claiming an absolute majority. Sánchez’s Socialists came in second by capturing 90 seats.

Rajoy has proposed forming a grand coalition between the PP, Socialists and the new center-right Ciudadanos party – which won 40 seats – but Sánchez has rejected his offer. The Socialist leader has also yet to embrace a proposal by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias to form a leftist coalition government.

If no party is able to form a government, a new general election will be held.

Rajoy said it was not fair that the future of Spain’s government was being blocked by “political games”

In an informal meeting with reporters at a public event, Rajoy said Sánchez must announce what he plans to do because it was not fair that the future of Spain’s government was being blocked by “political games.”

However, Rajoy repeated that he would not set aside his candidacy for prime minister at this time.

Rajoy also declined to react to statements made by former Socialist Prime Minister Felipe González in an exclusive EL PAÍS interview. González criticized Rajoy for preventing another party leader from trying to form a government at the upcoming investiture session, while at the same time he had decided not to take up King Felipe’s offer to form a government because of a lack of congressional support. The former prime minister called the decision “irresponsible.”

“I respect everyone’s opinions in politics and especially those” of a figure like the former Socialist leader, Rajoy said, without venturing further.

Government sources have said they believe that González is pushing for a government similar to a grand coalition of parties but without the involvement of Rajoy.

For his part, Rajoy has said that the current political stalemate can only be broken if and when Sánchez announces his intentions.

“Sánchez is the key, and what he needs to do is to decide with whom he wants to govern,” Rajoy said, adding that it was unfortunate that the Socialist leader has not wanted to meet with him.

King Felipe is currently holding a second round of talks with the leaders of Spain’s parties. Rajoy is scheduled to again meet with Felipe on Tuesday.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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