HE LED his country from near-bankruptcy to economic recovery, and faced down the Catalan separatists. But Mariano Rajoy, a stubborn and stolid conservative, also governed for the past seven and a half years against a background of endless corruption scandals, though he has not been accused personally and they mainly involve past regional leaders of his People’s Party (PP). Suddenly the corruption issue has done for him: on June 1st Spain’s parliament approved by 180 votes to 169 a motion of no-confidence brought by Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the opposition Socialists who will now form a government.
What doomed Mr Rajoy, who has led a minority government since 2016, was the verdict a week earlier in a long-running court case against a former treasurer of the PP and other party officials. The court found that the party had benefited from kickbacks, and cast doubt on the credibility of the prime minister’s evidence given to it, as a witness, last summer.
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Mr Sánchez’s no-confidence motion was an act of “democratic hygiene” he said. It was a bold stroke: for a prime minister to fall, the constitution requires that a majority of the lower house should back an alternative candidate.