Socialists take power in Spain after no-confidence vote ousts conservative government

Outgoing Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy shakes hands with successor Pedro Sanchez
(Image credit: Emilio Naranjo/AFP/Getty Images)

Spain's parliament dispatched conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his government with a no-confidence vote on Friday, setting up Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez to form a new government as soon as the king swears him in, possibly on Saturday. Rajoy had been prime minister for six years and his term was supposed to last until 2020, but corruption scandals in his Popular Party eroded his support. The final straw came last week when the High Court in Madrid identified his party as beneficiary of a kickback-for-contracts scheme and sent former party treasurer Luis Bárcenas to jail for 33 years.

Rajoy, 63, is the first Spanish prime minister booted from power by parliament since Spain returned to democracy in the the late 1970s. Sanchez, a 46-year-old economist, will become Spain's seventh prime minister in that time. He may have a hard time forming a government, however, since his party has less than a quarter of the seats in parliament. Sanchez won support from leftist and separatist parties to oust Rajoy, but it's not guaranteed that those parties will support his government. Sanchez's Socialist party is a staunch defender of the European Union and the euro currency.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.