Rajoy set to form new Spanish government after 10-month impasse
Acting Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has accepted King Felipe VI's request to seek parliament's approval to form a government and end 10 months of political deadlock.
Mr Rajoy is all but guaranteed to obtain approval in the coming days following the rival Socialist party's decision to stop blocking his bid and to abstain in a second parliamentary vote.
Two inconclusive elections since December have left Mr Rajoy running a caretaker government.
His Popular Party won both elections, but lacks a parliamentary majority and needs outside support to form a minority government.
Mr Rajoy spoke after the Spanish king wrapped up two days of talks with leaders from each party in an effort to end the impasse ahead of an October 31 deadline.
If no government is in place by that date, a third round of elections would have to be called.
Parliament speaker Ana Pastor said the investiture session would start on Wednesday.
The timing would pave the way for a first vote on Thursday and a second and final one on Saturday.
Mr Rajoy is unlikely to get the necessary absolute majority of votes in the 350-seat chamber in the first round.
During a second vote, he would only need more deputies in favour than against. Barring a major upset, he should be elected premier over the weekend.
As it stands, Mr Rajoy has the support of 170 parliamentarians - 137 of them from his own party.
The Socialists, who have 84 deputies, voted for the abstention to avoid a potentially disastrous third election and more political uncertainty.
The party, one of the country's major political groups, suffered its worst-ever results in both the December and June elections.
It agreed to vote against Mr Rajoy in the first vote, but to abstain in a second round, thus letting him through.
The Socialists remain bitterly divided over the abstention issue. Some regional leaders are threatening to rebel and vote against Mr Rajoy, although this is unlikely to change the ultimate outcome.