MADRID (AP) — Conservative Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy survived Wednesday, as expected, a parliamentary vote of no-confidence that was called by far-left lawmakers to protest the many corruption scandals tainting the ruling Popular Party.
The vote followed a 16-hour debate in which Rajoy faced off against Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, who was proposed as an alternative candidate for prime minister but lacked sufficient support in the lower house.
The no-confidence motion was rejected by 170 votes to 82, with 97 abstentions.
In the debate, Rajoy highlighted his government’s record in creating jobs and boosting growth since 2011 to lift Spain’s economy out of recession.
Iglesias and his supporters levelled non-stop accusations of graft, listing the dozens of investigations involving Rajoy’s party. Iglesias said Rajoy would be remembered as “the president of corruption.”
Rajoy argued there were corruption cases in all parties but that it was not the norm and no case involved members of his government.
He has, however, been dragged into one of the most damaging of the cases, an alleged kickbacks-for-contracts scheme. He testifies as a witness in the case July 26.
Following the vote, Iglesias promised to keep working to oust the Popular Party from office.
But Rajoy said the vote sent “a clear message” of rejection to Iglesias’ party, whom he classified as “radicals.”
He said the fact that an immense majority decided not to support the motion was a signal that his government could get back to work.
Rajoy heads a minority government since elections last year. His party, with 134 seats, counts on the support of the centrist Ciudadanos party’s 32 deputies and several others.
The leading opposition Socialist party, with 84 deputies, is considering presenting its own no-confidence motion, but on Wednesday decided to abstain rather than be seen supporting Iglesias, whom it deems to be an anti-establishment populist.
Podemos emerged in 2013 from grassroots protests that swept across the country during the five-year severe economic recession that ended that year.