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Spain's Feijóo loses parliamentary vote to become PM

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Spain's Feijóo loses parliamentary vote to become PM
Leader of the opposition Partido Popular - PP (People's Party) and candidate for prime minister Alberto Núñez Feijóo leaves after the failed vote at the end of the second session of a parliamentary debate to vote through a prime minister at Las Cortes in Madrid on September 27th, 2023. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Alberto Núñez Feijóo saw his bid to become Spain's next prime minister rejected by parliament on Wednesday, with the right-wing opposition leader lacking the support to pass a key vote.

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The result, which saw 172 votes in favour to 178 against, sets in motion a two-month countdown to new elections, unless outgoing Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez can garner sufficient support to pass an identical vote to be inaugurated as premier.

Sánchez, who has repeatedly demonstrated his capacity for political survival, is confident he will be returned to power with the support of the far left along with Basque and Catalan regional parties.

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Despite winning the most votes in July's inconclusive election, Feijóo on Wednesday was only able to muster the support of 172 lawmakers from his right-wing Popular Party (PP), the far-right Vox and two other tiny factions.

To be inaugurated as prime minister, he needed a majority of 176 in the 350-seat parliament.

He was unable to garner the necessary support due to his alliance with Vox, whose extreme positions have left the PP almost totally alienated.

Feijóo will also face a second vote on Friday that requires a simple majority of more votes in favour than against. But there too, he has little to no chance of winning sufficient support.

Next week, King Felipe VI is expected to task Sánchez with forming a government although the date for a new investiture vote has yet to be set. If he too fails, Spain will be forced to hold elections, most likely in January.

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'Selling Spain down the river'

Acutely aware of his lack of support, Feijóo used his parliamentary address on Tuesday to launch a blistering attack on Sánchez over his planned deal with a hardline Catalan separatist party cast in the role of kingmaker.

In exchange for its support, the separatist JxCat wants an amnesty for those facing legal action over the failed 2017 Catalan separatist bid, including for its leader Carles Puigdemont who led the independence drive then fled Spain to avoid prosecution.

In concluding the debate ahead of the vote, Feijóo lashed out at Sánchez for giving in to "blackmail by those who do not believe in Spain".

Feijóo saw his bid to become Spain's next prime minister rejected by parliament, with the right-wing opposition leader lacking the support to pass a key vote. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
 

 

"Whether Sánchez will end up being prime minister or not depends entirely on what Puigdemont wants," Feijóo had said on Tuesday, referring to a man viewed by the Spanish right as public enemy number one.

"What the pro-independence movement is proposing... is a direct attack on the essential democratic values of our country."

And his deputy Cuca Gamarra also attacked Sánchez for being "ready to sell Spain down the river at any price purely to get something that's exclusively in his own interest".

On Sunday, around 40,000 flag-waving protesters hit the streets of Madrid to denounce JxCat's amnesty demand, which Feijóo blasted as tantamount to "blackmail".

Approving an amnesty to stay in power would be dangerous for Sánchez as it is not only a red line for the right but also for elements within his own Socialist Party.

Although Sánchez's government in 2021 pardoned around a dozen Catalan separatist leaders jailed over the failed secession bid, he has yet to speak publicly about the amnesty issue, saying only he would be "faithful to the policy of normalisation in Catalonia".

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