Spain parliament votes in Rajoy as prime minister

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Spain's parliament voted on Tuesday to make conservative leader Mariano Rajoy the new prime minister, tasked with saving the country from economic crisis.

Members of the 350-seat lower house Congress voted by a majority of 187 to install Rajoy, whose Popular Party won an absolute majority in the November 20 election. Of the rest, 149 voted against him and 14 abstained.

The speaker of the house Jesus Posada declared Rajoy prime minister after members of parliament stood up one by one to declare their votes. Rajoy then hugged and kissed fellow party members and shook hands with deputies.

Rajoy is due to take office formally on Wednesday and put his government in place on Thursday.

He faces urgent pressure to fix Spain's economy, with five million people unemployed and warnings of a fresh recession looming.

In a speech to parliament on Monday he gave the first details of how he plans to create jobs, clean up banks and reassure investors that he can stabilise Spain's finances.

He vowed to slash the public deficit by 16.5 billion euros ($21.5 billion) through public spending cuts, with only pensions escaping the knife.

© 2011 AFP

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