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Socialist Pedro Sanchez Replaces Conservative Mariano Rajoy as PM of Spain

In an unprecedented move in modern Spanish history, conservative Mariano Rajoy, 63, has been ousted as prime minister by a no-confidence and has been replaced by Socialist Pedro Sanchez, 46, an economist, atheist and former footballer.

Sanchez called for the no-confidence vote last Friday after Rajoy refused to resign amid the conviction and jailing of a treasurer of Rajoy's conservative People's Party (PP), for receiving bribes, money laundering and tax crimes, as part of a wider corruption probe, centered on a secret campaign fund the PP ran from 1999 until 2005, the BBC-News reported. The result: Rajoy becomes the first Spanish prime minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in modern times.

Rajoy's popularity had been waning in Spain. He led a vengeful retaliatory campaign against the leaders of Catalonia after they successfully called and held a referendum on independence from Spain. Under Rajoy, Madrid took control of the Barcelona region government. Catalan leaders have been jailed and exiled as a result of Rajoy's heavy-handedness in Catalonia. Some Catalan leaders were also denied bail on their charges under Rajoy's leadership.

Now, Spain under the moderate socialist Sanchez, whose party holds less than 25% of the seats in the Spanish congress, could enter a more cooperative political era as it seeks to maintain political unity in the former colonial power. 

Sanchez could usher in a conciliatory phase by dropping all the politically motivated cases against the leaders of Catalonia's independence movement and move toward establishing a needed commission to look into the concerns of Catalonia with a view to keeping the territorial integrity of Spain in tact.