• PSOE approves abstention 137-96 after heated Federal Committee debate
• Vote deeply divides Socialists, some deputies expected to vote ‘No’ to Rajoy
The leadership of a deeply divided Socialist party (PSOE) voted in its Federal Committee meeting Sunday to abstain in Congressional voting this week and enable acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) to form a minority government to run the country for the next four years.
The announcement of the decision to abstain on the upcoming vote on Rajoy’s candidacy to lead Spain’s next government came after a heated four-hour debate Sunday between Federal Committee members favoring the abstention position and those holding firmly to the “No” vote position previously held by the Federal Committee and by ousted PSOE general secretary Pedro Sánchez. The final vote reflecting a 58 percent to 40 percent split on the issue leaves the party deeply divided, with a growing movement among the rank-and-file to push for an immediate Congress to name a new leadership for the party.
Not all PSOE deputies in Congress say they will follow the leadership directive to abstain on the Rajoy vote, however, with the seven deputies from the Catalan Socialists’ Party (PSC) vowing to vote “No” against Rajoy and other PSOE deputies from a half dozen other regions vowing to follow suit. The debate over the vote on Rajoy is expected to begin in Congress on Wednesday, with a final vote expected to come to the floor of the lower house of Parliament on Saturday or Sunday.