Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces a crucial debate in parliament on Thursday as the Socialist opposition seeks to cast out votes.
Legislators will vote on Friday on the motion of no confidence and signal willingness to negotiate Late Wednesday, socialist leader Pedro Sanchez will likely receive the support he needs to replace Rajoy as prime minister.
Sanchez already has the backing of the anti-establishment group Podemos and Esquerra Republicana, one of two Catalan separatist groups. He needs the other Catalan party, PdeCat, and the Basque nationalists to fix it.
Case against Rajoy rests on garnishment of former assistants (9:30 am)
Socialist MEP Jose Luis Abalos opened the debate in parliament with a ruling in the so-called Case belt. The national court sentenced former aides of Rajoy's People's Party to carry out a corruption coup while Rajoy was the party leader.
"The PP was belt and belt was the PP," said Abalos. "They have created a perfect cycle of corruption."
He accused Rajoy of escaping parliamentary oversight and manipulating the courts to avoid political responsibility for the crimes of the people who once worked closely with him.
"You have brought the dignity of the office you hold to unimagined depths," he said.
Spain's economy looks strong (9:05 am)
Before the political drama, the Spanish economy stood on solid ground. The final figures for the first quarter of the Statistical Office confirmed an expansion of 0.7 percent. For the current year, a growth of 2.7 percent is forecast. Although this would be 3.1 percent in 2017 even lower than the average of the euro area.
Rajoy Mulls resignation, according to El Pais (8:56 pm)
Rajoy is waiting to see if the Basque nationalists side with the Socialists before they decide to resign or dig, reports El Pais. The Basques moved closer to support the vote of no confidence after seeing the support of the Catalan separatist parties, the newspaper said. The Catalans have asked Sanchez to quash his criticism of local president Joaquim Torra in his speech on Thursday, reports El Pais. Sanchez first called him a racist.
Both Rajoy and Sanchez are ready to vote in the fall, according to the Vozpopuli website. Sanchez would be willing to call elections for October.
Possible Curveballs (7:59 pm)
With so much riding on the Friday vote, and the backroom arm twisting that leads to it, there's a lot of potential for curveballs. If Rajoy decides that the vote is lost, he can still prevent Sanchez from resigning his office by stepping down. Such a move would lead to early elections rather than a direct shift to a socialist-led government and time to regroup its party.
Also pay attention to Ciudadanos. The centrists are the fourth largest party in parliament and have so far refused to support Sanchez. They call for new elections rather than a parliamentary coup, and while it looks like Sanchez has outmaneuvered the leader of the Ciudadanos Albert Rivera, Rivera could still pull a rabbit out of his hat. With a growing lead in opinion polls, Rivera would probably be the biggest winner of an early election.
– With the support of Maria Tadeo