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Spain's Prime Minister Loses Confidence Vote, Ushering In Socialists

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, center, arrives for a vote on a no-confidence motion at the Lower House of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid on Friday.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has been forced out in a no-confidence vote led by the country's opposition Socialist party.

The motion passed by a narrow margin in the 350-seat lower house of Spain's parliament after the Socialists were able to corral enough votes from other parties. The final vote was 180 in favor, 169 against and one abstention, El Pais reports.

Following the vote, Rajoy shook the hand of the leader of the Socialists, Pedro Sánchez, who is all-but-certain to become the next prime minister.

Sánchez received a standing ovation in parliament as members of his party chanted "yes, we can!"

The position of Rajoy, 63, became untenable after Spain's High Court found Luis Bárcenas, a former treasurer of the prime minister's People's Party, guilty of receiving bribes, money laundering and tax crimes. Bárcenas has been sentenced to 33 years in jail.

In a brief farewell ahead of the vote — the first successful no-confidence motion in Spain's four decades of democracy — Rajoy said "it has been a honor to leave Spain better than I found it."

"Thank you to all Spaniards and good luck," he said.

Nearly a year ago, Rajoy survived a similar confidence vote, according to El Pais.

Rajoy on Thursday refused to step down ahead of the vote, as Sánchez had urged.

"Why should I have to resign, if for now I still have the trust of the house, and the trust awarded to me at the ballot boxes? You're the one who should be resigning around here," said Rajoy, addressing Sánchez.

The Financial Times writes:

"Mr Sánchez said that if he gets into power he would stick to the 2018 budget negotiated by Mr Rajoy, so there will be no instant policy shifts. He says he wants to implement reforms in some areas, for example on salaries, pensions and gender equality.

"He has also said that he wants to re-establish a dialogue with the pro-independence government of Catalonia, which has broken down in recent years, possibly indicating a more accommodative approach to the ongoing constitutional crisis in the region."

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