EFEMadrid

Spain's Socialist Party agreed by a majority vote to enable the incumbent conservative Popular Party to form a new government in Spain.

The party voted to abstain during the investiture of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, thus allowing him to become head of government, a step that ends 10 months of stalemate in Spanish politics.

"Nobody can deny that it was not an easy decision," a party statement said after the votes were counted and the decision made public.

The Socialist's federal committee cast 139 votes in favor of abstaining and 96 against.

Of the 237 accredited members of the committee, just two did not vote.

The committee thus cleared the way for a total or partial abstention, both decisions that would allow Spain to have a new government next week.

It is the first time since the country regained its democratic system in 1977 that the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) has made it possible for a conservative government to be formed with its help.

The debate at the Socialists' headquarters caused a deep split in the party.

There were two main factions, those in favor of an abstention and those who were willing to maintain a "no" at all costs to the formation of a conservative Popular Party government under acting Prime Minister Rajoy.

Among the latter were supporters of former Secretary General Pedro Sanchez, who was forced to resign on Oct. 1 precisely to allow him to defend that position.

Since then, the PSOE has been in the hands of a management committee that will lead it to an extraordinary congress to elect its next executive committee.

Sanchez did not attended Sunday's federal committee meeting.

The committee must now decide whether it enables Rajoy's government through a block abstention, or limit its abstention to 11 lawmakers, a margin that would just allow a new Cabinet to be formed.

Spain had two inconclusive elections since December in which the PP gained most votes each time but failed to obtain a majority in the Lower Chamber.

The country has been run by a caretaker government with Rajoy as acting prime minister since the Dec. general elections.