Pedro Sánchez has been re-elected as Spanish Prime Minister of Spain, ending four months of political deadlock in the country.
It comes after a controversial amnesty deal struck by Sánchez’s PSOE socialist party for the support of the Catalan pro-independence parties triggered a fortnight of protests and fierce condemnation from his opponents. ALSO READ: Amnesty bill registered in Spanish Congress – full details.
Sánchez gained an absolute majority on Thursday, with 179 votes in the 350-seat Spanish Congress. In addition to the 121 MPs from his own PSOE party, he also had the support from the 31 MPs of the left-wing Sumar alliance – with whom he will form a coalition government – as well as the six MPs of the Basque party EH Bildu, five from the Basque Nationalists (EAJ-PNV), a total of 14 votes from the Catalan pro-independence parties Esquerra Republicana (ERC) and Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) (both with 7 seats each), as well as the support of the sole representatives from the Galician Nationalist party (BNG) and the Canary Islands Coalition.
Despite winning the most votes in July’s election, the right-wing People’s Party (PP) led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, failed to garner support to form a government back in September. The PP’s 137 MPs voted against Sánchez on Thursday, as did the far-right Vox party (33), and the one MP from the Unión del Pueblo Navarra – making it a total of 171 against.
The PSOE MPs applauded their leader as the result of the vote was confirmed, but MPs were later booed by protesters as they filed out of the Spanish Congress building, with the amnesty deal having provoked thousands to protest in Madrid and other cities over the past two weeks. ALSO READ: Feijóo vows to continue protests against amnesty ‘until there are new elections’.
Several PSOE MPs were reportedly chased and had eggs thrown at them as they left a cafeteria near the Congress building. One egg hit MP Herminio Sánchez and delegates were advised to look after their personal safety in light of heightened political tension.
Buses hired by the right-wing Catholic organisation Hazte Oír drove near to the Congress building with anti-Sánchez messages on them. One had a picture of Sánchez made to look like Adolf Hitler, with the slogan: ‘Sánchez dictator.’
Thursday’s vote came at the end of nearly two days of debate among party leaders that centred almost entirely on the highly controversial amnesty deal that Sánchez agreed to in return for vital support to get elected prime minister again. ALSO READ: The PSOE and Junts sign a pact that will guarantee investiture of Pedro Sánchez.
The amnesty deal signed between the PSOE, ERC and JxCat will effectively clean the slate for hundreds of Catalan pro-independence officials and activists who have faced or are still facing legal action for their actvities related to Catalan independence between 1 January 2012 and 13 November 2023.
The amnesty law, if and when it is finally passed, would benefit former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, who is in self-imposed exile in Brussels after leading the failed independence bid of 2017, and where he is now MEP. At the moment, he is currently still sought by Spanish Justice. ALSO READ: Spain expected to provide bodyguards for Puigdemont, still sought by Spanish Justice.
Despite lingering disagreements, the Catalan and Basque parties have supported Sánchez in the investiture vote, but have also let him know that he must fulfill the economic and political deals reached with them. ALSO READ: Pedro Sánchez faces backlash and tough legislature ahead due to Catalan deal.
‘We respect the agreements we reached. We started negotiations months ago that continue today, and Sánchez’s investiture is just one of the points of the agreement we have signed,’ Míriam Nogueras, parliament spokesperson for Puigdemont´s party, JxCat, told Catalonia’s RAC1 radio.
Sánchez, who has made a career out of making political gambles, defended the amnesty during the parliamentary debate, arguing it was constitutional and needed to ‘heal the wounds’ opened by Catalonia’s independence push. ALSO READ: Sánchez defends Catalan amnesty deal ahead of vote to form new government.
‘We will guarantee the unity of Spain through dialogue and forgiveness,’ the 51-year-old added.
‼️#España 🇪🇸: Pedro Sánchez 🌹, elegido Presidente del Gobierno por el Congreso con mayoría absoluta 💼.— EM-electomania.es (@electo_mania) November 16, 2023
✅ A Favor (179):
🍃 EH Bildu
❌ En Contra (171):
↘️https://t.co/uKOkwy7IYY #InvestiduraSanchez pic.twitter.com/0JCBxUF1VV