Spain: Pedro Sanchez’s candidate elected to the top of the Assembly

The candidate of the Spanish Socialist Party, Francina Armengol, was elected president of the Congress of Deputies on Thursday, a success for the outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, which bodes well for his chances of being reappointed as the head of the government soon.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez won his bet on Thursday, August 17, during the opening of the parliamentary session, by electing the socialist candidate, Francina Armengol, as the president of the Assembly, thanks to a last-minute agreement with the party representing the hardline Catalan independence movement.

Francina Armengol, 52 years old, received 178 votes in the first round, two more than the required majority, thanks to the votes of the seven deputies from Junts per Catalunya (JxCat, Together for Catalonia), the party led by the separatist leader Carles Puigdemont, who is exiled in Belgium and wanted by the Spanish justice system since the failed secession attempt in Catalonia in 2017.

Although it was only a first round, this agreement between the socialist party and Carles Puigdemont’s party is important as it provides an initial positive indication of Pedro Sanchez’s chances of being reappointed as Prime Minister in the coming days and thus avoiding new elections.

JxCat revealed on its website shortly after the vote that the agreement, concluded in the early hours of the morning, includes four points, the first of which is “the recognition of Catalan as an official language of the European Union”.

Pedro Sanchez himself made this proposal on Wednesday, highlighting the fact that Spain holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council until the end of the year and promising to use this position to obtain official language status for Catalan, as well as for Basque and Galician.

“No connection with the investiture” The agreement falls far short of Junts’ demands, which include amnesty for all individuals who have been convicted for the failed secession attempt in Catalonia and a self-determination referendum.

For both legal and political reasons, it was unthinkable for Pedro Sanchez to agree to these demands. Carles Puigdemont has therefore temporarily abandoned these demands, preferring to achieve concrete gains.

However, Junts warns on its website that “this agreement is limited” to the election of the president and the eight members of the Assembly’s board “and has no connection with the investiture” of the next Prime Minister, which will be the main battle.

In other words, the agreement does not mean that Junts will support Pedro Sanchez’s investiture on the day he appears before the Congress of Deputies.

“Junts’ objective is the independence of Catalonia, and all agreements (entered into by the party) serve to advance in this direction,” concludes the statement.

Stinging defeat for the right Despite this very clear warning, Pedro Sanchez’s horizon cleared significantly on Thursday, especially since his rival Alberto Núñez Feijóo, leader of the People’s Party (right), who also claims the position of Prime Minister, suffered a stinging defeat during this opening session of parliament.

His candidate for the presidency of the assembly, Cuca Gamarra, who hoped to obtain 172 votes and therefore thought she could win in the event of abstention by the Junts deputies, ultimately received only 139 votes, namely, the votes of the 137 PP deputies and those of the two regional small party members.

The 33 deputies from Vox, the far-right party on which the PP depended, decided to vote for their own candidate.

This is a striking illustration of the tumultuous, yet very ambiguous, relations between the PP, a center-right party, and Vox, an ultra-ideological formation that is close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Since the parliamentary elections on July 23, which saw the PP become the largest party in the country again, but far from an absolute majority, with a score well below its expectations, Alberto Núñez Feijóo has been demanding the opportunity to address the deputies and submit himself to an investiture vote, justifying his demand by the fact that his party had the most deputies.

Pedro Sanchez responded to him sharply on Wednesday by stating that “in Spain, the one who governs is the one who obtains the most support,” indicating that the one who can gather a majority. He also accused the PP of “putting pressure” on King Felipe VI, who is responsible for choosing the candidate for investiture.

From this point of view, Thursday’s vote showed that Alberto Núñez Feijóo has no reliable ally and no majority, since even Vox has deserted him. AFP

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More