Socialist Pedro Sanchez re-elected as Spain’s PM after Catalan separatists deal
Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has been chosen by a majority of legislators to form a new government after agreeing an amnesty deal for Catalonia’s separatists.
Socialist leader Mr Sanchez was backed by 179 lawmakers in the 350-seat lower house of parliament. Only right-wing opposition deputies voted against him.
The vote came after nearly two days of debate among party leaders that centred almost entirely on a highly controversial amnesty deal for Catalonia’s separatists that Mr Sanchez agreed to in return for vital support to get elected prime minister again.
Mr Sanchez clinched the support of six smaller parties, allowing him to achieve the majority of lawmakers needed to be re-elected and form another minority coalition government with the left-wing Sumar (Joining Forces) party.
Spain’s inconclusive national elections on July 23 left a highly fractured parliament. The centre-right Popular Party received the most votes in the elections but failed to get enough support to form a government because of its alliances with the far-right Vox party.
The Socialists finished second with 121 seats but now have the support of the 179 lawmakers following a series of pacts.
It remains to be seen if Mr Sanchez can maintain their support over the next four years.
The amnesty deal that the Socialists signed with two key Catalan separatist parties that command 14 votes would clean the slate for hundreds of separatists in legal trouble following the north-east region’s illegal 2017 secession bid that sparked Spain’s biggest crisis in decades.
The amnesty law would benefit former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who is a fugitive from Spanish law.
Despite lingering disagreements, the two Catalan parties as well as two Basque ones said they would back Mr Sanchez on Thursday but let him know that he must fulfil the economic and political deals reached with each of them.
The two Basque parties pointed out that their support was also key to keeping a progressive government in power and making sure the right wing remained out of office.
Spain’s judiciary has criticised the proposed amnesty while the European Union is reviewing it.
The proposal sparked street protests backed by the Popular Party and Vox, which accuse Mr Sanchez of betraying the nation just to stay in power. Protests outside the Socialist party’s headquarters in Madrid turned ugly last week and again on Wednesday night.
“The only real reproach that the right makes against us is that with these agreements we will have won the government. Which is what is going to happen today,” Mr Sanchez said prior to the vote.
The speaker of the house will now convey the result to King Felipe VI. Once published in the State Gazette, Mr Sanchez will be sworn as the new prime minister before the king, most likely on Friday.
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