Spain’s PM Prepared |for Investiture Vote

     MADRID (AP) — Spain’s acting prime minister said Thursday that he is now prepared to seek parliamentary support for his bid to form a government after reaching a deal with a small party that has said it will back him.
     Mariano Rajoy said he’ll tell Speaker Ana Pastor on Thursday that he’s ready for a parliamentary confidence vote whenever she feels is convenient. Pastor will then announce a date.
     He was speaking after meeting with Albert Rivera of the business-friendly Ciudadanos party, which has said it’s willing to support his bid to take power and end eight months of political deadlock following two inconclusive elections.
     But even with Ciudadanos’ backing, Rajoy will need the abstention or support of other groups to get through.
     Describing Thursday’s talks as “a decisive step” toward forming a government and avoiding a third round of elections, Rajoy said the two parties would begin Friday negotiating legislative reforms demanded by Ciudadanos as part of its deal to support Rajoy.
     Rajoy said he had also accepted a package of six conditions presented by Ciudadanos last week as a prerequisite for any negotiations. The conditions included an electoral law reform, and anti-corruption and transparency measures, including scrapping legal immunity for deputies and a commission to investigate allegations that former Popular Party treasurers ran a slush fund.
     Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party, in power since 2011, won the last election with 137 seats, 39 short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament and needs considerable outside support to win an investiture vote.
     The Socialist party was second with 85 seats, the left-wing alliance, Unidos Podemos, was third with 71 seats and Ciudadanos fourth with 32 seats.
     The Socialists, Unidos Podemos and other smaller parties have pledged to vote against Rajoy, which would scuttle any chance of him taking power.
     If Rajoy fails, Spain will likely face months more of his caretaker government and possibly a third election.
     Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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