MPs prepare for weekend investiture debate to vote on new PM in a break from precedent

Sánchez and Iglesias (centre) seal their deal on Monday while their teams look on.
Sánchez and Iglesias (centre) seal their deal on Monday while their teams look on. / EFE
  • Catalan separatists, ERC, have agreed to abstain, allowing Pedro Sánchez's PSOE to form a government with Unidas Podemos by 7 January

While people in Spain are finishing shopping for presents this Saturday, ahead of Three Kings Day, MPs in the Congreso will be debating whether Pedro Sánchez is to be appointed as next Prime Minister. Acting PM Sánchez, of the PSOE Socialist party, was designated as candidate by the King before Christmas having won November's election.

Saturday's sitting is unusual because the parliament has never met at a weekend and neither at holiday time -parliamentary staff will unexpectedly have to come into work.

Pedro Sánchez has the most MPs but doesn't hold a majority. If he wins the investiture debate and vote, there will be another first, as Spain will be governed by a coalition for the first time since the restoration of democracy after Franco.

The PSOE and its new left-wing partners, Unidas Podemos (UP), finalised details of their pact this week. UP, under Pablo Iglesias, will get one Deputy PM position and four ministries in the deal.

To win the investiture, Sánchez needs the abstention of Catalan left-wing nationalists, ERC. Their leadership met on Thursday night to ratify that abstention, seemingly satisfied with a PSOE promise of round-table meetings on Catalonia with Madrid in the future.

Following parliament's rules, Sánchez is expected to lose a vote where he needs an absolute majority on Sunday (5 January), before MPs return on Tuesday (7 January). Then a simple 'yes versus no' vote would be enough to see a new left-wing government in Spain and the end of eight months of political stalemate.