The Latest: Spain parties bargain before no-confidence vote

The Latest on moves to oust Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (all times local):

9 p.m.

Spain's anti-establishment Podemos party is proposing that Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez form an alliance to win the next general election and for a coalition of left-wing and nationalist forces to govern until then.

Those political forces are set to back Sanchez's no-confidence motion against Mariano Rajoy on Friday, which would end Rajoy's second term as prime minister. The Socialists want to lead a transitional government and call a general election before the end of the year.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias has called for Sanchez to implement an ambitious social agenda and to undo years of austerity measures by the conservatives. He said: "Today, finally, we are sending the Popular Party home."

Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera, whose center-right party led in recent polls, formally announced that his lawmakers would vote against the no-confidence motion.


6:15 p.m.

A Spanish government spokesman says that Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy isn't considering his resignation despite being on the cusp of losing a no-confidence vote in parliament.

The spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to be named in media reports, says Rajoy planned to address the lower house Friday before the vote.

If Rajoy does resign or is forced out, the center-left Socialist party is likely to take power.

A Basque nationalist party's support in favor of the motion, announced during Thursday's tense parliamentary debate, likely spelled the end of Rajoy.

PNV party spokesman Aitor Esteban told the chamber that "we believe we are responding to what most Basques demand and honoring our responsibility by voting yes" in Friday's no-confidence vote.

--By Aritz Parra


4:10 p.m.

Spanish media are reporting that regional Basque nationalist lawmakers will back a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, bringing closer the conservative's replacement by a Socialist-led government.

The five votes of the Basque Nationalist Party, or PNV, are seen as key for Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez to win the vote in the lower house of the Spanish parliament. An absolute majority of 176 votes are required in the 350-seat chamber.

Spain's public broadcaster TVE and leading El Pais newspaper quoted unnamed sources from the ruling Popular Party who had been informed by the Basques of their decision.

A PNV spokeswoman told The Associated Press she couldn't confirm the reports.

Rajoy himself wasn't in his seat in early Thursday afternoon, when the chamber resumed the no-confidence debate after a lunch break.


12:50 p.m.

Spain's opposition Socialists have tried to persuade smaller parties to support their bid to oust Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's conservative government as they opened a tense parliamentary debate on their no-confidence motion.

Addressing lawmakers, Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez promised Thursday to uphold a recently negotiated national budget that includes substantial benefits for Basque nationalists. Voters from their legislations would allow Sanchez to oust Rajoy.

He urged the prime minister to step down after his ruling Popular Party was fined as beneficiary of a large kickbacks-for-contracts scheme

The prime minister fought back. He told lawmakers it made no sense to seek a no-confidence vote based on the graft ruling because the National Court's verdict "doesn't include any criminal punishment" for his party.


9:15 a.m.

The Spanish parliament's lower house is debating whether to end Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's nearly eight years in power and replace him with the leader of the Socialist opposition.

Rajoy refused to resign after his conservative Popular Party was fined as beneficiary of a large kickbacks-for-contracts scheme. In a damaging ruling last week, the court questioned Rajoy's claim that he and other top officials were unaware of the party's illegal accounting.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who is leading the no-confidence vote against Rajoy, would instantly become the country's prime minister if he wins 176 or more votes in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies on Friday.

His opening speech Thursday proposing an alternative government will be watched by other opposition lawmakers who are still undecided on whether to oust the government.