PP leader loses investiture vote in Spain in his first bid to become prime minister
The Partido Popular's Alberto Núñez Feijóo proclaimed himself the moral victor of a debate which dealt in large part with Basque and Catalan nationalism, despite losing by 178 votes to 172
Paula de las Heras
Wednesday, 27 September 2023, 17:27
The first vote, by viva voce, for the investiture of the conservative PP leader in Spain ended as expected with 172 votes in favour (those of the PP, VOX, UPN and Coalición Canaria) and 178 against, those of the rest of the Congress (PSOE, Sumar, ERC, Junts, Bildu, PNV, BNG).
Feijóo will not now be prime minister, except in the highly unlikely event that something changes in the second vote that must still take place this Friday. Assuming the PP leader fails also on Friday to win more votes, the result will mark the start of a two-month deadline for Pedro Sánchez to make his re-election effective.
All of Feijóo's speeches over the past two days were based, more than on an attempt to defend his own programme, on an attack on Bildu and on the demands of Carles Puigdemont and the ERC, who have demanded an amnesty for those accused of holding a referendum on self-determination as conditions for their support.
Feijóo also took aim at Sánchez for his "silence", in reference to the PSOE leader's decision to delegate to a deputy as belligerent as Óscar Puente the response to his speech, which he said ratified secessionism. "And we will see the intensity of his silence, what he grants and what he demands. What we will never know is whether what you will give them will be enough, but that does not depend on you," Feijóo said of his opposite number.
Aware of his defeat, the leader of the Popular Party nevertheless proclaimed himself the moral victor of the debate. "Because it has been demonstrated that there is an alternative to the model of blackmail and concessions by those who do not believe in our country. And because it has shown that the citizens went to the polls with information that has been stolen from them. I am convinced that if we had known what we know now, this investiture would be different," Feijóo said.
On the second day of the debate, it was the turn of Bildu, PNV, BNG and Coalición Canaria. Bildu was crystal clear. After identifying the PP with the '78 regime, which its spokesperson, Mertxe Aizpurua, openly said she wanted to "break", she confirmed that she would support the PSOE and said she would do so for three reasons: "anti-fascism, the defence of the working class and the survival" of the Basque nation. "We are on the right side, on the side of human rights", she went on to say after accusing the Popular Party of being reactionary. Feijóo later recalled her conviction for defending terrorism in 1984, when she was editor of the magazine Punto y Hora, bought by ETA in 1978.
The PNV, whose coherence Feijóo questioned so harshly, provoking anger from its spokesperson, Aitor Esteban, nevertheless left the door open to a repeat election. Neither the PP nor the PSOE believe that this position responds to anything more than a bargaining chip. Hence the reproaches of the opposition leader, who devoted his entire reply to Esteban to highlighting the contradictions of a party like the PNV preferring a government that includes Sumar and a prime minister whom Andoni Ortuzar, leader of the PNV's executive committee, accused of treating them 'like a Kleenex', to an executive led by him. Esteban said "there is a whale in the bathtub" in reference to Vox's support for the PP leader.