Spanish PM welcomes small party offer to help form gov’t




MADRID (AP) — Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday welcomed the decision of the small, business-friendly Ciudadanos party to consider supporting his bid to form a government but warned Spain faces a third round of elections if the leading opposition Socialist party maintained its intention of voting against him.

Rajoy spoke after meeting Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera as part of efforts to muster support for a parliamentary vote to allow him to form a government and end an eight-month political deadlock following two inconclusive elections.

New proposals presented by Rivera as a condition to possibly voting for Rajoy were "a positive step," Rajoy said, but that he would have to put them to his Popular Party's executive board on Aug. 17.

Even with the support of Ciudadano's 32 seats, Rajoy's conservative Popular Party — in power since 2011 — would still need further outside support or abstentions to win a parliamentary confidence vote.

The Popular Party won the June 26 election with 137 seats, 39 short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament.

Rivera had previously said Ciudadanos would abstain, but on Tuesday suggested this could change if Rajoy first agrees to a package that includes electoral law reform and anti-corruption and transparency measures that might not please the Popular Party board.

"The important thing is that a government is formed," Rajoy said, but added that if the Socialists "continue saying 'no,' investiture will be impossible."

The Socialists were second with 85 seats while the left-wing alliance, Unidos Podemos, was third with 71 seats.

As it stands, only Ciudadanos might be willing to back Rajoy. With the Socialists, Unidos Podemos and other smaller parties against him, he has no apparent chance of getting through.
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