Mariano Rajoy, confirmed as prime minister, faces challenges because of his minority government. | EFE


Mariano Rajoy, as expected, was yesterday evening confirmed as Spain's prime minister. Ten months after the first general election, the third investiture debate allowed Rajoy and the Partido Popular to continue in government, albeit as a minority government.

The investiture was only possible because of abstentions by PSOE deputies. In the end, fifteen PSOE deputies broke with the federal committee's demand for abstention and voted no. The two PSOE deputies from the Balearics - Pere Joan Pons and Sofia Hernanz - were among them. The fifteen are now all threatened with "measures" being taken against them.

The final vote was 170 yes - made up of the PP, Ciudadanos (C's) and Ana Oramas of the Coalicion Canaria - with 111 no and 68 abstentions. There was one deputy who was missing. At a tearful press conference earlier in the day, Pedro Sánchez, the former leader of PSOE, had announced that he was giving up his seat in order not to have to disobey the committee's mandate.

As for the investiture debate, Rajoy recognised that there will have to be "dialogue and consensus" with other parties, most obviously PSOE. But he was promising little change on issues such as labour reform and independence demands by Catalonia. This "no change" was duly noted by some on the left, such as Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias. His speech was the most passionate of the debate. He called for a new and young Spain and referred, as did others, such as the leader of the C's, Albert Rivera, to corruption in the PP.

For PSOE, Antonio Hernando made it clear that Rajoy and the PP will need to convince them if they are to give support during the legislature. Hernando was involved in the most unpleasant exchanges of the debate. Gabriel Rufián of the ERC (Catalonia Republican Left) had branded PSOE traitors and accused them of bowing to the "cacique" (a reference to the old system of corrupt political bosses).

Hernando described Rufián's comments as "hatred" and lacking respect. This drew strong applause from PP deputies as well as from those in PSOE ranks. Ana Oramas for the Coalicion Canaria suggested that Rufián needed to be more grown up and not display such rancour.

Rajoy, with the investiture sealed, is expected to announce his new cabinet on Thursday.