The clock starts ticking on Wednesday towards what could be Spain’s third national election in a year when acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces a confidence vote in parliament for a second term in office. Spain has been without a functioning government since inconclusive elections in December and June failed to hand a convincing mandate to any political party. So far, party leaders have been unable to agree on forming a coalition. The eight-month political deadlock has delayed investments in infrastructure such as roads and rail and put high-ranking government appointments on hold, leaving some Spanish embassies without an ambassador. Rajoy’s center-right People’s Party (PP) won the most votes in June’s election but lacks the majority it needs to win the vote even with support from centrists Ciudadanos (Citizens), Spain’s fourth-biggest party.
The opposition Socialists have refused to back Rajoy or smooth the way to a PP-led minority government by abstaining in a second confidence vote, which will be held on Friday if Wednesday’s ballot fails. In the second vote a simple majority will suffice to put Rajoy back in power.
The Socialists are unlikely to back down from that position given local elections in September in the northern regions of Galicia and the Basque Country where support for Rajoy’s PP could cost votes for the left-wing party.
Spain’s economy, on the rebound from a recession which ended three years ago, has powered ahead despite the lack of a functioning government, with the latest data showing strong growth fueled by consumer spending and demand for exports.