Pedro Sánchez wins a second term as PM. Photo: EFE / Video: Europa Press

MPs vote in Pedro Sánchez as Spain's PM again

The PSOE-Socialist leader secured a majority of votes thanks to deals negotiated with minority parties, the most controversial being with Catalan separatists, to whom he has promised an amnesty



Thursday, 16 November 2023, 15:04

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Pedro Sánchez won a third term as Spanish prime minister today (16 November) in a majority vote by MPs and after two days of heated debate in Congreso after his controversial offer of an amnesty to Catalan separatists in return for their support.

The PSOE leader's reappointment relied heavily on deals with smaller independence parties to ensure he picked up 179 votes, three more than the 176 majority required in parliament in a first vote. Parties voting for Sánchez included his own PSOE Socialists, far-left group Sumar, the two Catalan independence parties – Junts and ERC, Basque nationalist parties, the Galician nationalist party and Coalición Canaria. The 171 votes against him included the Partido Popular, Vox and Navarre’s UPN party.

Following his reelection, the Socialist leader thanked the groups that backed him and sent a message to the officials, members and supporters of his own party, who, he said, had spent the past few months under great stress and deprived of information about his talks with other parties. "I know that the process that has brought us to this day has not been easy, nor has it been easy for me. Thank you for your trust," he told them. "The only criticism that the PP and Vox really level against us has nothing to do with the agreements with the nationalist parties. In fact they are willing to make a pact with them. What they criticise us for is having won the government with them,” he added.

The results of Spain’s general elections on 23 July left the formation of the next Spanish government unclear. The conservative Partido Popular, led by Alberto Núñez Feijóo, won the election, gaining 136 of the 350 seats in Spain’s congress. Sánchez gained 122 seats, making it no longer the most-voted party. But the result left neither of the two main parties with an absolute majority, with a final outcome dependent on the support of Catalan and Basque independence parties, which has taken weeks to negotiate.

The deal that sparked the most furor was with Catalan separatist party Junts, which promised Sánchez the support of its seven parliamentary members in exchange for an amnesty for those involved in the regional government’s failed independence referendum in 2017. This deal has triggered heated protests called for by right-wing opposition parties outside the Socialist party’s headquarters in Madrid.

Sánchez, who formerly opposed an amnesty, insisted during the two-day investiture debate that this was now needed “in order to unite Spain”. The Partido Popular’s vice secretary Esteban Gonzalez Pons on Tuesday compared the amnesty deal to violations of the rule of law by some eastern European countries such as Hungary, and suggested the European Union could intervene. On Wednesday, Spain’s Supreme Court rejected an injunction by the far-right party Vox to suspend the Sánchez investiture vote because of the amnesty deal.

The amnesty law will now begin its passage through parliament, but opposition parties have promised to do all they can to hold it up, while the Catalan separatists have warned the new government of Sánchez that they will not tolerate anybody watering it down.

Sánchez’s government will be a coalition of the PSOE and Sumar, with Yolanda Díaz as deputy prime minister. It was not clear if Podemos, now part of the Sumar grouping of MPs, would have any ministers in the new cabinet.

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