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Rajoy says goal is to secure Socialists’ support to form a government in July

But failing that, PP leader is also open to pacts with Ciudadanos and regional parties

Mariano Rajoy with party secretary Dolores de Cospedal and Madrid premier Cristina Cifuentes. Ampliar foto
Mariano Rajoy with party secretary Dolores de Cospedal and Madrid premier Cristina Cifuentes. AFP

After emerging the winner in Sunday’s elections with 137 seats, 39 short of the 176 needed to secure a majority, Popular Party (PP) leader and acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reaffirmed on Monday morning that his priority is to garner the support in Congress of the Socialists (PSOE), who won 85 seats, at an upcoming investiture vote so that he can form a government as soon as possible.

“I am going to try to secure the investiture vote with the support of the Socialists so as to secure approval of the 2017 budget,” Rajoy told the COPE radio station. Asked about instead seeking the support of center-right reformists Ciudadanos (32 seats), the Basque Nationalist Party (5) and the Canaries Coalition (1), the PP leader said this was a possibility, but would still leave him one seat short of a majority. “I’m not ruling anything out, but for the key issues such as Europe or managing Brexit, I will need the support of the PSOE,” he said.

Rajoy’s goal is to form a government and this time round he aims to achieve his goal of winning an investiture vote

His preference is to begin talks as soon as possible with PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez.

Rajoy said he had already spoken with Sánchez in the early hours of Monday morning, when the Socialist leader phoned to congratulate him, but that no offer was forthcoming. “He told me that he agreed we needed to talk, but we didn’t go into any details because it wasn’t the right moment.”

In short, Rajoy made it clear that his goal was to form a government and that this time round he would achieve his goal of winning an investiture vote. Congress resumes on July 19, and Rajoy’s intention is to reach some kind of “sensible” deal with the Socialists before then.

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English version by Nick Lyne.

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