Spain: PM seeks deal with Socialists despite their problems

MADRID - Spain's acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, on Thursday dismissed speculation he might try to capitalize on the opposition Socialist party's crisis by threatening another election if he doesn't get their support to form a government.

Rajoy said a third election in a year would be "madness," adding that he would seek talks rapidly with the Socialists as Spain needs a government urgently.

An internal revolt resulted in the resignation of the Socialist party's leader last week and raised the possibility the group might alter its total opposition to Rajoy and help end Spain's nine-month deadlock following two inconclusive elections last December and in June.

Rajoy's conservative Popular Party, which heads a caretaker government, needs only a handful of votes or abstentions in Parliament to form a minority government. Up to now, the Socialists have roundly refused to abstain in a parliament confidence vote.

But the Socialists' crisis also raised speculation that Rajoy might use the party's dread of another election — in which it could be further punished by voters — to demand a more lasting deal than just abstention.

Rajoy, however, said he would place no conditions on a deal with the Socialists. He said the ideal outcome would be a coalition, or else pacts on "seven or eight major issues."

Rajoy has the support of 170 lawmakers in the 350-seat national Parliament — 137 of them from his own party. But he is still six short of the majority needed to form a government.

The Socialists, who scored their worst ever results in both recent elections, have 85 seats.

Parliament has until Oct. 31 to form a government or a new election must be held.

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