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Spain's Rajoy Secures Second Term as Prime Minister

Newly re-elected Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, center, is apauded by lawmakers after the second and final confidence vote of the investiture debate at the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, Oct. 29, 2016.

Spain's parliament voted Saturday to approve conservative Mariano Rajoy's second term as prime minister, ending a 10-month leadership stalemate that had kept Europe's fourth-largest economy in political gridlock.

Rajoy won a confidence vote in the fractious 350-seat assembly by a margin of 170-111, just days after 68 opposition Socialists agreed to abstain from the ballot rather than again cast votes to block the incumbent. Socialists have, however, vowed to oppose Rajoy's second-term economic initiatives.

Rajoy voiced hope for the future of the minority government he is expected to announce Thursday, saying: "I hope ... we are able to govern and work together, like in other European countries where nobody has a majority."

Analysts said Rajoy's new government would face daunting economic and and fiscal challenges, since he has less legislative support than any other leader since democratic rule was restored in Spain following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Rajoy will begin his second term with an economy expected to grow more than 3 percent for a second straight year.

But Spain also has an unemployment rate of nearly 19 percent, nearly twice that of the European Union as a whole.