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Formation of government in Spain: Another four years of Sánchez

The government is formed: there are four more years of left-wing coalition in Spain. The voices of Catalonians also make this possible.

Pedro Sánchez and other politicians in blue suits

The new old Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (centre) on Thursday in Madrid Photo: Juan Medina/Reuters

MADRID taz | Spain will have a left-wing coalition in government for four more years. Pedro Sanchezwho has ruled Spain for five years, was re-elected in the first round on Thursday after a two-day parliamentary debate.

The old and new prime minister, whose socialist PSOE was only the second strongest force with 121 seats in last July’s elections, received the votes of 179 of the 350 representatives and thus the trust of the majority of the people’s representatives, something that election winner Alberto Nuñez Feijóo and his Partido Popular (PP) failed at the end of September. He made a pact with the right-wing extremist VOX. With the exception of two smaller right-wing parties, no one wanted to join this pact. It was Sánchez’s chance and he took advantage of it.

“The PP opened the doors to five regional governments and 135 municipal administrations to the extreme right. It gave them the power to influence the lives of more than 12 million Spaniards,” said Sánchez. “We have to decide whether we want to further advance the dignity of work, the empowerment of women, respect for sexual diversity, the integration of migrants,” or whether we want to support the prophets of hate.

Sánchez promised to continue expanding social rights, as he has done with, among other things, raising the minimum wage and pensions as well as a law on sexual freedom and more rights for transgender people. In addition, the transition away from fossil fuels should be accelerated.

Big demands from Basques and Catalonians
Pedro Sanchez

“We have to decide whether we want to further advance the dignity of work, the empowerment of women, respect for sexual diversity and the integration of migrants.”

In addition to the representatives from the coalition partners, the PSOE and the left-wing alternative Sumar, Sánchez was followed by representatives of the regional parties from the Canary Islands, Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia. This is the result lengthy negotiations in which the PSOE made numerous concessions. The Canary Islands and Galicia will receive more investment, and the Basque Country will finally receive powers that have been in the Statute of Autonomy since 1979 but have never been transferred.

The Catalans will get debt relief, a new tax system and an amnesty for those who are being prosecuted for holding a 2014 citizens’ poll and a 2017 independence referendum, including exiled former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont in Brussels, whose Junts per Cat party is also in exile in Brussels voted for Sanchez.

“It is a measure that is demanded by an important part of Catalan society (…) but may not be shared by many citizens,” said Sánchez. During the election campaign, he himself vehemently denied a pardon. But without Catalan independence politicians, Sánchez has no parliamentary majority. “For reasons of general interest, it is necessary to make a virtue out of necessity,” Sánchez tried to end the debate about the amnesty.

VOX boss insults Sánchez as a “dictator”

PP and VOX made it clear that remission would be the main topic of their opposition work. For Feijóo, the government was “born of a fraud.” “What is being presented to Parliament today was not voted on in the elections. (…) It is an act of political corruption. “Making decisions against the public interest in exchange for personal benefits has no other name,” Feijóo railed and called for new elections.

VOX boss Santiago Abascal even insulted Sánchez as a dictator on Wednesday and compared him to Hitler and Nero. Without waiting for Sánchez to respond, he left the plenary hall with his followers and joined the protests in front of Parliament and later the demonstration in front of the PSOE headquarters, which has been taking place every evening for almost two weeks. Violent riots broke out again and 15 arrests were made.

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