Sanchez’s bid to form new Spanish govt fails in first vote

Pedro Sanchez
Pedro Sanchez

INTERIM Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez failed to net enough support in a first-round parliamentary vote on Sunday to form the first coalition government in Spain’s recent history, two months after elections were held.

The leader of the Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) received 166 of the 176 votes he needed for an absolute majority to approve his proposed coalition with the left-wing Unidas Podemos alliance; 165 lawmakers voted against him, 18 abstained and one was marked absent due to sickness.

On Tuesday, parliament will hold a second round of voting in which only a simple majority – more “yes” votes than “no” votes – is needed to approve his coalition.

Sanchez is expected to clinch this round, so long as all of his supporters are present and no one else gets sick.

A victory for Sanchez would give Spain its first regular government since two elections in April and November 2019.

Sanchez reached a breakthrough agreement with the leftist Unidas Podemos alliance in November after months of acrimony between the two parties.

Sanchez had previously refused to compromise to reach an agreement with the protest alliance.

The ability of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos to govern is dependent on the support from Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) – the largest Catalan party in the Spanish parliament.

Sanchez received the backing of ERC on Thursday. The Catalan separatists pledged their allegiance to the socialist and agreed to abstain rather than vote against him on Tuesday.

In return, Sanchez vowed to hold a political dialogue with the ERC regarding their aspirations of Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

The Spanish leader’s deal with the Catalan separatists has caused an uproar among the opposition. During the parliamentary debate before Sunday’s vote, parliamentary speaker Meritxell Batet was forced to repeatedly call the loudly protesting lawmakers to order.

Pablo Casado, head of the conservative People’s Party, warned of “a Frankenstein government made up of communists and separatists.”

Local media reported that several hundred people appeared in front of parliament on Saturday to protest the debate over Sanchez’s coalition agreement ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Sanchez’s PSOE won November’s poll but fell short of an absolute majority. After consultations with all the party leaders, King Felipe VI nominated Sanchez as candidate for prime minister in mid-December. (dpa/NAN)

– Jan. 6, 2020 @ 8:15 GMT |

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