Madrid, Spain: Mariano Rajoy has been ousted as Prime Minister of Spain, after losing a no-confidence vote in Parliament on Friday, over corruption scandal. Spanish Socialist Party(PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez is expected to be sworn in as Prime Minister over the weekend and his cabinet appointed next week.
An absolute majority of 180 lawmakers voted to oust Mariano Rajoy, making it the first no-confidence motion in the country since 1977.
Mariano Rajoy’s scandal-plagued government becomes first in Spain to fall as a result of a no-confidence vote.
The no-confidence motion was triggered by a long-run corruption trial, known as the Gurtel case, involving 29 people in Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP).
The motion was initiated, following a recent court ruling, which found several officials of Spain’s People’s Party guilty of embezzlement, tax evasion and numerous other offenses. The party itself has been fined by Spain’s High Court last week for its involvement in the “corruption scheme.”
Responding to the accusations against him, Rajoy rejected the political proceedings as a plot by Sánchez and his party to undemocratically seize power.
The corruption scandal, known as the Gurtel case after the German translation of one of the main suspects’ name, came to prominence in January 2013 when El Pais published documents alleged to show secret donations and payments to PP members. The sting looked at Spanish businessmen who were bribing PP politicians in exchange for lucrative public contracts.
The judges in the trial last week found the PP guilty of benefiting economically from the corrupt network and fined them 245,492 euros.
Several former PP members were handed jail sentences this month for their part in the long-running Operacion Guertel corruption case.
The no-confidence motion was initiated by the opposition Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) on Thursday and supported by Catalan parties and the leftist Podemos. With the centrist party Ciudadanos abstaining, Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) and its allies was left at the mercy of the Basque Nationalist Party and its five crucial votes. The vote, which required a simple majority, ended with 180 in favor of ousting Rajoy, 169 against and one abstention.
Earlier on Friday, Rajoy conceded defeat to PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez, who will now become prime minister.
Rajoy had refused to step down before the no-confidence vote, and has defended his party in the corruption scandal that has now proven to be his downfall. Last week, dozens of former PP officials were jailed for money laundering and fraud, and the party fined €240,000 over a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme they ran between 1999 and 2006.