Mariano Rajoy, a prominent target of the antiestablishment fervor rising across Europe, was assured of re-election as prime minister when his Socialist rivals conceded defeat Sunday, ending Spain’s 10-month leadership impasse. Socialist leaders, in a reversal, instructed their party’s lawmakers to abstain when Parliament considers his candidacy next weekend, depriving other opposition parties of the votes needed to keep blocking the conservative incumbent. The Socialists, distant runners-up to Mr. Rajoy in two elections of deadlocked parliaments since December, said they feared a deeper loss if a third election was required. The Socialist leadership committee took Sunday’s decision by a vote of 139 to 96. Mr. Rajoy oversaw Spain’s recovery from its worst postwar recession but met a populist backlash over austerity policies and corruption scandals. The impasse has kept the 61-year-old leader suspended between victory and defeat, his powers reduced to those of a caretaker. On Sunday, he emerged as a consummate survivor, demonstrating the uneven impact of the Continent’s insurgent protest parties.
Far from a sweeping mandate, Mr. Rajoy will get a vulnerable minority government. He said in a recent speech that he would have to “work day to day, with humility and patience,” to coax legislative backing for his second-term initiatives.
Mr. Rajoy will become the second head of a eurozone government, after Enda Kenny of Ireland, to win re-election after making painful budget cuts demanded by creditors to ease Europe’s financial crisis.
Two prime ministers who took that orthodox course while managing international bailouts lost elections last year to leftist parties in Greece and Portugal.