Pedro Sánchez confirmed in congress as Spain's president

First coalition government since 1930s led by Socialists to be launched after key pro-independence Esquerra party's abstention

Socialist Pedro Sánchez during the second congressional debate on January 7, 2019 (by Jordi Vidal)
Socialist Pedro Sánchez during the second congressional debate on January 7, 2019 (by Jordi Vidal) / ACN

ACN | Madrid

January 7, 2020 02:08 PM

Pedro Sánchez's presidency has been confirmed in Spain's Congress on Tuesday having obtained a simple majority with 167 votes in favor, 165 against him and 18 abstentions ushering in the country's first coalition government since the 1930s.

Having failed to obtain an absolute majority amongst MPs in Sunday's vote after the first congressional debate, the left-wing Socialist-Podemos government became a reality 48 hours later following a shorter second debate.

Pedro Sánchez will swear the constitutional oath before the King of Spain in the coming hours, and will officially unveil his ministers – five of which have been proposed by anti-austerity Unidas Podemos – in the next few days. The cabinet is expected to meet for the first time this Friday.

Tense second congressional debate

Tension was high throughout the session right before Sánchez's successful vote, with right-wing parties bitterly criticizing the Socialists for remaining in power thanks to a coalition agreement with anti-austerity Podemos and the votes of Basque nationalist and Catalan pro-independence parties in the chamber.

While some People's Party MPs shouted "long live the King," their leader Pablo Casado said that Sánchez's cabinet will be "the most radical in history."

Far-right Vox's Santiago Abascal said that the Catalan president has not yet been arrested "because Sánchez needs the support of the coup mongers," while Ciutadans' leader Inés Arrimadas called on Socialist MPs to break the party line and vote against their leader.

On the other side of the political arena, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias said right-wing parties are doing a disservice to the King because, according to him, they are making the monarchy leave its constitutional neutrality aside.

As for the Catalan pro-independence parties, JxCat's Laura Borràs confirmed her party would vote against Sánchez, saying they do not trust him because, according to her, he has changed his stance on the Catalan issue 6 times since 2017.

Esquerra's Montse Bassa, sister of jailed former Catalan minister Dolors Bassa, expressed outrage at the imprisonment of her close relative. She said she does not "give a rat's ass" about Spain's governability, but whenever she visits her sister and the other jailed Esquerra leader, they tell her dialogue with the Socialists is worth a shot.

Her party's abstention was essential for Sánchez to be confirmed as president.

Far-left CUP voted against Sánchez as well, with the party's MP Mireia Vehí calling for an "antifascist alliance" and criticizing far-right Vox's denial of the existence of gender-based violence.