(Madrid) In power for five years in Spain, Pedro Sánchez was reappointed Thursday by Parliament at the head of a country deeply divided by the Prime Minister’s decision to grant an amnesty law to Catalan separatists, in exchange for their support.
After two days of tense parliamentary debates, the socialist, who has proven in recent years his ability to survive politically, obtained the votes of 179 deputies, a number greater than the absolute majority set at 176.
“The confidence of the Chamber (of deputies) has been placed in Pedro Sánchez,” declared its president, Francina Armengol, to applause from the left benches.
This inauguration ends nearly four months of blockage since the legislative elections of July 23 and will allow Mr. Sánchez, 51, to form a new government with his allies in the far-left Sumar coalition.
Pedro Sanchez will take the oath of office before King Felipe VI on Friday at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. Eastern Time), the Royal Palace said.
Coming second in the July election, behind his conservative rival Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the Prime Minister has had to negotiate in all directions in recent weeks for the support of several regionalist groups, whose voices are crucial in a very fragmented Parliament.
In particular, he had to convince the party of Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont, leader of the attempted secession of Catalonia in 2017, who fled to Belgium six years ago to escape legal proceedings launched against him.
Agreeing, after intense negotiations, to support Mr. Sánchez, Mr. Puigdemont obtained, in exchange for the votes of the seven deputies of his party, the upcoming adoption of an amnesty law for hundreds of separatists pursued by Justice. A measure that will allow him to return to Spain.
“Close the wounds”
Exposing to deputies the priorities of his new mandate, clearly marked on the left with numerous social promises, Pedro Sánchez defended on Wednesday the necessity and constitutionality of this amnesty, to which he was nevertheless opposed in the past.
This measure will make it possible to “close the wounds” opened by the 2017 crisis, declared the Prime Minister, assuring that he wanted to guarantee “the unity of Spain through dialogue and forgiveness”.
Mr. Feijóo’s Popular Party (PP) accuses the socialist of having conceded with the sole aim of remaining in power and raises the risk that Spain will find itself in the sights of the EU, like of Hungary or Poland, due to the attack on the rule of law that this measure constitutes, according to him.
The amnesty “undermines our international reputation and our democracy”, denounced Mr. Feijóo as he left the chamber.
At the call of the PP, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across the country on Sunday to say “no” to this measure which is rejected, according to several polls, by a majority of Spaniards.
A new mobilization is planned for Saturday in Madrid.
The daily rallies of the far right in front of the headquarters of the Socialist Party in Madrid have also steadily degenerated since last week. Nearly 4,000 people demonstrated Thursday evening, according to a provisional report from the prefecture.
Due to these tensions, more than 1,600 police officers were deployed on Wednesday and Thursday to protect Parliament, which was completely sealed off. A system equivalent to that of a football match classified as high risk.
In this context, Mr. Sánchez called on the opposition not to “take advantage of this situation to set fire to the streets.”
A sign that the heterogeneous majority supporting the socialist promises to be unstable, Mertxe Aizpurua, the representative of Bildu, warned that the favorable vote of her party, considered as the heir to the political showcase of the Basque separatist organization ETA, will not was not “a blank check”.
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