The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) will support Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) in his vote of no confidence against Mariano Rajoy (PP), Spanish media outlets, including state broadcaster TVE, reported shortly before 4 p.m. on Thursday.
PNV parliamentary spokesman Aitor Esteban announced the decision formally shortly after 5 p.m. in the chamber.
"We do not mean to govern Spain, we are a Basque party."
He said it would be "irresponsible" if some party were to torpedo the 2018 budget in the Senate.
Mr. Rajoy was not present in Congress for the second part of the no confidence debate. Minority party spokesmen wondered if the Prime Minister was already packing his bags.
He has few paths left now. The two most widely commented options both lead in the next few hours to him no longer being Prime Minister of Spain: either he resigns or opposition forces in parliament will support Mr. Sánchez tomorrow to oust him and install a new socialist government.
If he hangs on tonight, though, the confidence vote itself is not expected until around lunchtime on Friday.
Only last week, Basque nationalists supported Mr. Rajoy in Congress to pass his much delayed 2018 budget.
Updated: 5:54 pm, May 31 2018 (link)
PNV Says Gürtel, Ciudadanos & Separatists Tipped Scales Against Rajoy
In a statement published at the same time parliamentary spokesman Aitor Esteban was announcing the PNV's support for Pedro Sánchez in Congress, the party said there were three main reasons for backing the PSOE leader.
Firstly, the "gravity" of the Gürtel judgement last week, and the "inadmissible" lack of a political response from the Popular party.
Secondly, the PNV accused Ciudadanos of trashing the "stability provided by the budget" after Albert Rivera declared his party's support for Mariano Rajoy to have ended after the publication of the judgement.
And finally, the fact that the two Catalan separatist parties with MPs in Congress—Esquerra (ERC) and PDeCat—had decided to join the PSOE and Podemos in a "very broad opposition majority" against Mr. Rajoy.
The statement, like Mr. Esteban in his parliamentary statement, said it was not the PNV's responsibility to govern Spain, and that Spanish parties had demonstrated an "obvious inability to reach sufficient agreement" among themselves.
The PNV does not wish either to be "held responsible" or "demonised" for the "legitimate decision we take".
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