A defeat announced. The leader of the PP, who won the elections last July 23, but does not have a majority in Parliament, still wanted to present himself for the investiture in the chamber. «He only made us waste time» said his opponent, the current socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez. Now it will be his turn: he has two months to try to gather the votes needed to form a new government. The support of the Catalan nationalists is indispensable but they condition it to an amnesty and a referendum on the self-determination of Catalonia. On the first question there is ample room for negotiation, on the second the PSOE has reiterated a firm no.
Feijóo’s arrows, Abascal’s threats
Closing his speech to the Chamber, Feijoo launched a harsh attack directed at Sánchez: «There is no success in deception and lying. If his will is to continue with this moral and political degradation it will be his responsibility or irresponsibility. I don’t want to be president at any cost… Now it’s time to know if you want to be president of the government at the cost of the dignity and equality of Spaniards”, a clear reference to the possible amnesty towards Catalan separatists that Sánchez could grant to get their vote of confidence. Even more threatening was the intervention of the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal: “The Spanish people have the right to defend themselves, afterwards they shouldn’t start whining if it happens.”
Let’s see in points what the political situation is and how it can evolve.
Black smoke for the popular candidate for the presidency of the government, Alberto Núñez Feijóo: on Tuesday he failed to collect the necessary votes (176) in the first vote of the investiture debate, in which it was necessary to obtain an absolute majority. It obtained only 172 in favor — PP (137), far right of Vox (33), Coalición Canaria (1) and Union del Pueblo Navarro (1) — and 178 against — PSOE (121), radical left of Sumar (31) , Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (7), Junts per Catalunya (7), EH Bildu (6), Basque Nationalist Party (5) and Galician Nationalist Bloc (1). It is unlikely that the numbers will change in the second vote, in which a simple majority is enough. Before this second vote, Feijóo will have ten minutes to ask for the support of the lower house.
Vox, the inconvenient ally
Since his electoral victory two months ago, the leader of the People’s Party has sought the necessary support throughout the parliamentary spectrum, even going so far as to propose a sort of non-belligerence pact to the socialists of the PSOE. Returned to sender. The only certain allies were the three parties that voted yes to confidence. In particular the far right of Vox, with which the PP is already governing in several municipalities and some Spanish regions, after the administrative elections in May. These weeks of negotiations did not prove fruitful. Some potential allies, such as the Basque Nationalist Party, have refused to enter into a coalition with Vox, an indispensable but increasingly inconvenient ally for the PP.
The straw passes to Sanchez
If, as is foreseeable, Feijóo does not obtain the vote of confidence, the countdown begins for a new electoral call. But the Constitution guarantees the possibility of other candidates for the presidency of the Council. The deadline for further negotiations is two months, i.e. between 27 September and 27 November. In this period, the PSOE candidate, Pedro Sánchez, will also seek a government majority. King Felipe VI will open a new round of consultations and, once finished, will propose his name.
The difficult negotiations with Junts
In reality, the left front has been opening negotiations with the Catalan parties (ERC and Junt per Catalunya) for weeks to obtain their support. A negotiation initiated by Sumar leader Yolanda Diaz and conducted with great discretion. The silence was broken on Thursday when the Catalan Parliament passed a resolution on the right to self-determination, which conditions the yes to Sánchez’s investiture on his support in the referendum. A red line that the PSOE has no intention of crossing. On Friday he published a statement in which he reiterated his no to any separatist referendum. The PSOE has instead opened up to an amnesty law, which would also benefit the exiled Junts leader, Carles Puigdemont.
If within the two-month period starting from the first failed investiture vote, no one obtains a majority in the government, the king will dissolve the Cortes and call new elections. These elections would be held 47 days later, i.e. on January 14.