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Spain's Divided Parliament Convenes at Time of Political Turmoil

Spain's parliament held its first session Wednesday, with lawmakers from four main parties taking their seats at a time of political turmoil, intensified by a resurgent secessionist threat in the Catalonia region.

Lawmakers picked a Socialist, Patxi Lopez, a former head of the regional government of the northern Basque Country, as parliamentary speaker, in the first pact between rival parties still engaged in talks to form a government since last month's inconclusive election.

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Thousands March in Bilbao for Return of ETA Prisoners

Tens of thousands protested in Bilbao, northern Spain, on Saturday calling for the return of more than 400 prisoners linked to the Basque separatist group ETA who are being held outside the region.

Families of the convicts, who are dispersed across 73 prisons in France and Spain, led the march in the Basque region's most populous city.

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Three Tons of Cocaine Seized, 12 Arrested in Spain Drugs Bust

Spanish police said Tuesday they had seized three tons of cocaine and arrested twelve suspected drug smugglers from Spain, Britain and The Netherlands in a major drugs bust in the north of the country.

The seizure in the northwestern Galicia region was "the biggest for this type of drug on Galician soil since 1999", the police said in a statement, without revealing when the operation took place.

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Catalan Party in Key Meeting on Backing Separatist Government

Members of a far-left Catalan separatist party gathered Sunday to decide whether to back the formation of a new government led by outgoing Catalan president Artur Mas that would work towards breaking away from Spain.

Separatists won a majority of seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament for the first time in a September election in the wealthy northeastern region of Spain which is home to 7.5 million people.

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Spain's Socialists Refuse to Back Rajoy Bid to Form New Govt.

The leader of Spain's Socialists said Wednesday his party will not back acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's bid to form a new government following an inclusive weekend election.

"We were clear: we will vote against the continuity of the Popular Party at the helm of the government, with Mariano Rajoy as prime minister," Pedro Sanchez told a news conference after holding talks with Rajoy for the first time since Sunday's election.

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Spain PM Battles to Stay in Power as New Parties Rise

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faced an uphill battle to stay in power on Monday after his conservatives lost their majority in an election that saw dynamic new political groupings end decades of two-party rule.

For more than 30 years, Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists had alternated power, but millions of Spaniards exasperated with austerity and corruption scandals voted relative newcomers Podemos and center-right Ciudadanos into third and fourth place.

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Mariano Rajoy: Spain's No-Frills, Austere Conservative

Mariano Rajoy, who has the uphill task of trying to form a coalition government in Spain after his party won elections without an absolute majority, has turned his perceived dullness into a political strength.

Positioning himself as a safe pair of hands who saved the country from economic collapse, Rajoy secured a narrow victory for his conservative Popular Party but now has to enter negotiations with other political groupings to continue leading Spain, or attempt to rule with a minority government.

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Lebanese Boy Orphaned by Dahieh Blasts Fulfills Dream of Meeting Ronaldo

Lebanese toddler Haidar Mustafa, 3, has fulfilled his dream of meeting Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, 36 days after losing his parents in the Bourj al-Barajneh bombings.

Haidar arrived Friday in the Spanish capital Madrid and was welcomed by Cristiano at the airport.

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Spain's No-Frills, Austere PM Seeks Re-Election

Straight-laced and sedate, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has turned his perceived dullness into a political strength, positioning himself as a safe pair of hands who saved the country from economic collapse.

"Do I look as boring as some say?" the 60-year-old asked recently while playing table football on television -- in an unusual appearance for a man who normally shuns the media -- just ahead of Sunday's general elections.

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Podemos Brings Spain's 'Indignados' to the Doors of Parliament

"Si, se puede" -- yes, we can. It was the rallying cry for thousands of "Indignado" protesters who flooded Spanish streets in 2011, and the far-left Podemos party spawned by that movement is now poised to enter parliament on the same slogan.

As Spain battles an economic crisis, polls suggest Podemos could come in third or fourth place when the country votes in a general election on Sunday, taking about 60 seats in the 350-seat assembly.

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