Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, marred by a corruption scandal, was voted out of office by Parliament on Friday, after more than six years in power, to be replaced by the Socialist Pedro Sanchez.
The motion of censure against the conservative leader was adopted by a majority of 180 out of 350 deputies. A historic vote that makes Mr Rajoy the first head of government to be toppled by a vote of no confidence since the restoration of Spanish democracy.
“Yes, it is possible,” party members from radical left party Podemos said, hailing his fall, while their leader Pablo Iglesias embraced Mr. Sanchez.
During his first speech after the vote, the former economics professor promised to address with “humility all the challenges facing the country” citing in particular “the social emergency” caused by high unemployment and precarious working conditions that persist despite Spain’s economic recovery.
In power since December 2011, Mr Rajoy, 63, had survived several major crises, from the recession, to the months of political blockage in 2016 and Catalonia’s attempted succession last year.
It remains to be seen now how long Mr Sanchez will be able to govern with a potentially unstable majority. His allies in ousting Rajoy, which include the far-left Podemos and Basque nationalists, have stressed that their vote against Rajoy was not a blank check for the Socialists to govern.
The conviction of numerous Popular Party (PP) cadres in the Gürtel trial for receiving funds obtained illegally was just one of many corruption scandals that have plagued the party over the past few years.
In this case, the judges concluded that there is a “genuine system of institutional corruption” between the PP and a private group through the “manipulation of public procurement.”
They further questioned the credibility of Mr Rajoy, who had denied the existence of secret accounts in court.