Spain is on course to emerge from 10 months of political deadlock after the opposition socialist party agreed it would not block the centre-right Popular Party from forming a minority government.
Mariano Rajoy has governed as head of a weak and interim government since the end of last year when the PP lost their majority in parliament. After elections in June – which were overshadowed by the UK's vote to leave the EU three days before – the situation remained deadlocked, with no party in an outright majority and no viable coalitions possible.
The socialist party, PSOE, however, has now decided it will not block Rajoy's plans to govern as head of a minority government, by abstaining, instead of voting against, his legislative programme. The move comes after PSOE ditched their former leader Pedro Sanchez for not contemplating reaching a deal with Rajoy over the summer.
Failure to form a new government by 31 October would have led to fresh elections later this year and seen Spaniards return to the polls for the third nationwide ballot in 12 months. Amid fatigue and disenchantment with both PP and PSOE – the two largest parties – and rising support for disruptive left-wingers Podemos, PSOE did not want to head to the polls again, and opted instead to form the official opposition.
The vote by PSOE, held today, however, revealed the bitter division within the party, with 139 members of the federal committee supporting the plans but a sizeable 96 voting to continue with impasse.
Rajoy will also command the support of new centrist party Ciudadanos, the fourth largest in the parliament, when he puts his plans to parliament over the coming days.