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Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy Ousted From Power; Sanchez Is New Socialist Prime Minister

As was widely expected, this morning Mariano Rajoy’s six year reign as Spain’s prime minister, ended when he become the first prime minister in Spain’s democratic history to be ousted by parliament after losing a vote of no-confidence amid a corruption scandal engulfing his Popular party. He will be replaced by the Socialist opposition leader Pedro Sánchez.

A small but sufficient majority of Spanish lawmakers was sufficient to end Rajoy’s career, voting 180 to 169 to remove the prime minister, cutting short the second term of one of Europe’s longest-serving leaders currently in power. The center-left Socialist Party had called the no-confidence vote last week and proposed its leader to replace Mr. Rajoy.

Rajoy takes his seat at Parliament before the vote of a no confidence motion in Madrid, June 1. Photo: Reuters

Quoted by the FT, in his brief final speech to parliament, Rajoy bade farewell to the country after seven years in power: “It has been an honour to leave Spain better than I found it. Thank you to all Spaniards and good luck.” The speech came after a last meal of sorts:

Mr Rajoy spent eight hours in a Madrid restaurant on Thursday afternoon instead of sitting through the first part of the parliamentary debate, but appeared composed on Friday during his resignation speech.

Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez, who becomes prime minister immediately, told lawmakers that his policy goals include bolstering social policies to address problems such as unemployment and poverty levels, both of which remain high despite Spain’s strong growth. Among Sanchez’ challenges will be managing the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy and dealing with internal problems such as the crisis in Catalonia.

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