Spain’s Political Countdown: Pedro Sánchez’s Majority Quest

Having come first in the legislative elections but without a viable majority last July, the leader of the Popular Party Núñez Feijóo did not manage to be invested head of the Spanish government by Parliament. Outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will soon be tasked by King Felipe VI with forming a majority before November 27.
With Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s failure complete, it is now Pedro Sánchez’s turn to try to be installed as head of the Spanish government by Parliament. But to do this he will have to obtain the support of the Catalan separatists who are setting the bar higher and higher. As expected, the leader of the Popular Party (PP, right) who came first in the legislative elections of July 23 but without a viable majority, failed this week to be invested as Prime Minister by the deputies.

After a first setback on Wednesday, the conservative lost a second vote on Friday where only a relative majority was enough for him. Obtaining 172 votes out of 350 – those of the PP, the far right and two small parties – he saw his candidacy rejected by 177 other deputies, members of the Socialist Party, the far left and regionalist parties. One vote had to be counted as invalid, an MP opposed to the Conservative having voted for him by mistake before retracting.

With Núñez Feijóo defeated, the outgoing socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will soon be tasked by King Felipe VI with trying to form a majority before November 27. Otherwise, a new vote will automatically be called for mid-January.

Pedro Sánchez is optimistic

In power for five years, Pedro Sánchez, who has shown in recent years a keen sense of political survival, said again on Thursday that he was convinced of succeeding. Spain “is preparing to renew the progressive coalition government in a very short time”, he assured European socialists in Madrid.

Despite the optimism displayed by the socialist, the negotiations promise to be very dangerous. Assured in particular of the support of the far left, with whom he has governed since 2020, and the Basque separatists, he must obtain the essential support of the Catalan independence party of Carles Puigdemont, Together for Catalonia (Junts), which has systematically opposed to his government in recent years.

At the beginning of September, the leader of the 2017 secession attempt demanded from Brussels, where he settled to escape legal proceedings, the amnesty of the separatists targeted by Spanish justice, in exchange for the support of his party .

The idea of a referendum in Catalonia at the heart of the negotiations

And in recent days, Junts and the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the other major separatist party, have raised the bar even higher by demanding negotiations on a self-determination referendum. In a resolution adopted Friday by the Catalan regional Parliament, these two parties called for “not to support the inauguration of a future Spanish government which would not commit to working to make effective the conditions for the organization of a referendum”.

With Carles Puigdemont at its head, the Catalan regional government organized a self-determination referendum on October 1, 2017, despite its ban by the courts. This election was followed by a unilateral declaration of independence, which caused the worst political crisis in Spain in decades.

The central government, then in the hands of the PP, had dismissed the regional government and suspended the autonomy of the rich region of 7.8 million inhabitants while the independence leaders had fled abroad, such as Carles Puigdemont, or had been incarcerated. Seeming willing to find an amnesty formula despite the uneasiness of certain barons and part of their electorate, the socialists insisted that the organization of a referendum was on the other hand a red line.

“There is no path in this direction. There never was one and there still isn’t one,” insisted the leader of the Catalan socialists, Salvador Illa, close to Pedro Sánchez, on Friday. on radio Cadena Ser. “And if we have to go to new elections, we will go and it will be up to the citizens to choose. But the path of division and rupture is a dead end,” he added on Rac1, a radio station. Catalan.

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