Spain's Rajoy sworn in as prime minister after deadlock broken

Spain's newly re-elected Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy swears an oath during a royal decree ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on Oct 31, 2016.
Spain's newly re-elected Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy swears an oath during a royal decree ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on Oct 31, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (REUTERS, AFP) - Spanish conservative leader Mariano Rajoy was sworn in as prime minister on Monday (Oct 31) by King Felipe, after more than 10 months of political jockeying to form a government following two inconclusive elections.

Rajoy, leader of the People's Party, is returning to power after losing his absolute majority, and will have to strike deals with opposition parties to pass legislation in a fragmented and hostile parliament.

Spain's parliament on Saturday voted Rajoy back into power, ending a rollercoaster, political crisis despite bitter opposition and lingering divisions.

One hundred and seventy lawmakers voted for Rajoy, 111 against, and 68 abstained - all Socialist MPs, in line with the party's reluctant decision to let its arch-rival govern rather than trigger a third round of elections in the poll-weary country.

Rajoy pledged to plough on with economic policies deeply unpopular with the opposition which blames austerity measures taken in his first term for rising inequality.