Spain could have a government by July 23rd (or face new elections)

Nine-and-a-half weeks after the general election, Spain moved a step closer to forming a government.

Spain could have a government by July 23rd (or face new elections)
Photo: AFP

Spain's new parliament will vote on whether to grant socialist leader Pedro Sanchez a second term as prime minister on July 23rd, the speaker of the chamber announced Tuesday.

Parliamentary speaker Meritxell Batet told reporters the debate over Sanchez's candidacy would begin on July 22nd and the vote would take place the following day.

If Sanchez fails to get an absolute majority — 176 votes or more — he will only require a simple majority — more “yes” than “no” votes — in a second vote two days later, she added.

“Spain needs a Government as soon as possible to continue advancing towards equality,” Sanchez tweeted in response to the announcement.   

With no parliamentary majority, outgoing premier Sanchez may struggle to find the support he needs in the first vote.   

Although his Socialist Party won the most seats in the April 28th election, that was just 123 seats in the 350-seat assembly.   

To be sworn in again as prime minister Sanchez will need the support of far-left Podemos — which has 42 seats — and several other smaller, regional parties.

But Podemos wants to be part of a ruling coalition, a condition Sanchez has refused.

The simple majority required in the second vote means Sanchez could be voted prime minister if the main opposition conservative Popular Party (PP) and centre-right Ciudadanos simply abstained from voting.

But the two parties have so far refused to abstain from voting to make it easier for Sanchez to be sworn in.

Sanchez wants to avoid relying on the abstention of the Catalan separatist parties, as the right routinely accuses him of being held hostage by the separatists.

Sanchez came to power in June 2018 with the help of the separatists by ousting conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote.   

But it was the Catalan separatists who triggered the snap polls in April by refusing to back his 2019 budget.

If Sanchez is not sworn in within two months of the first investiture vote.fresh elections must be called in November — and Spain has already held three national elections in the past three and a half years.

Spain has never had a coalition government since it returned to democracy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

READ MORE: Spain's general election: What next?

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Spain’s PM in quarantine after Macron tests positive

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will quarantine until December 24th after French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for COVID-19, his office said in a statement on Thursday.

Spain's PM in quarantine after Macron tests positive
The two leaders met on Monday in Paris. Photo: AFP

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has suspended all public activities and will self-isolate until Christmas Eve

Sanchez cancelled all items on his agenda for the coming days, starting with his attendance at a ceremony on Thursday at which King Felipe is to open an exhibition.

The Socialist leader attended a number of events in Paris on Monday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including a lunch with Macron.

Video footage of Macron welcoming the Spanish prime minister at the Elysee Palace showed both wore masks and did not shake hands.

Sanchez, whose wife contracted the virus at the start of the pandemic in March, will be tested for COVID-19.

In a statement the Elysée Palace said that the French president had tested positive for the virus after showing symptoms.

“The president tested positive for Covid-19 today (Thursday),” it said in a statement, adding he had been tested after the “onset of the first symptoms”.

Macron will now, in accordance with national regulations, “self isolate for seven days. He will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely,” it said.

The president, 42, had taken a PCR test and his office added that he had shown only mild symptoms.

READ MORE: French President Emmanuel Macron tests positive for Covid-19