By Sonya Dowsett and Isla Binnie
MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's centrist Ciudadanos party refuses to support a motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy due this Friday, its leader said on Wednesday, making the votes of smaller parties key in the bid to end the premier's six-year rule.
Spanish political parties are taking advantage of Rajoy's weak minority party and a court ruling last week that sentenced dozens of people linked to his conservative People's Party (PP) to decades in prison in a long-running corruption trial.
The no-confidence motion, presented by the main opposition Socialists, needs backing from a fragmented parliament including nationalist parties from the Basque and Catalan regions each with their own agenda.
Ciudadanos would be open to proposing a second motion of no-confidence with an independent candidate and an eye to calling an early election, Albert Rivera said in an interview with COPE radio station. He said the Socialists had turned down this plan.
Rajoy said in parliament on Wednesday he intended to carry out his four-year term without calling an early election. But opposition parties are expected to continue to try to oust him even if Friday's no-confidence vote fails.
"Even if no successful motion is passed to oust Rajoy, the risk of early elections before the end of the year has increased significantly," said Antonio Barroso, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence.
"If an early election is held before year-end, a centrist, market-friendly and pro-European government would be the most likely result," he added.
Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez has put himself forward as the alternative candidate for leader and offered to agree with other parties on a date for fresh elections.
So far, leftist party Podemos, which was founded in 2014 and fed off voter frustration with economic inequality and alleged corruption during a biting recession, has pledged its backing.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, whose party holds 67 seats in parliament, would support the motion of no-confidence, he said in an interview with La Sexta television on Wednesday.
Even so, the joint votes with the Socialists fall short of the minimum 176 votes required to unseat Rajoy.
"If it fails, as of Friday we will get to work on throwing out the PP," Iglesias added.
Rivera dismissed any partnership with Podemos and the regional parties, branding them "separatists and populists".
"A strong legitimate government arising from elections will give much more stability to Spain than a 'Frankenstein government' with a parliamentary minority," he said.
(Additional reporting by Rodrigo de Miguel; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
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Updated Date: May 31, 2018 00:07:39 IST