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Sánchez expected to be named president on Tuesday after failing in first vote following debate

The Socialist leader failed to win a clear majority on Sunday, but will be invested with a simple majority in the second vote aided by ERC's abstention

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05 January 2020 12:09 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Pedro Sánchez is expected to be named president of Spain with a vote in the Spanish congress between MPs on Tuesday, after missing out in the first round of voting on Sunday by ten votes. The Socialist leader was given the green light from the biggest pro-independence party in the chamber on Saturday, Esquerra Republicana Catalana (ERC), who confirmed they would abstain, paving the way for the leader to form a government. 

ERC, whose leader Oriol Junqueras remains behind bars after the Supreme Court convicted him of sedition in October 2019, maintained that “without a table for negotiation, there would be no Spanish government.” Speaking in congress in Madrid, Gabriel Rufián explained the position: “Catalan citizens would be swindled otherwise.”

After a long day of debates on Saturday among MPs over the Sánchez’s bid for presidency, and allowing the Socialist head to respond too, some more parties were given the chance to speak on Sunday before a vote on the investiture around midday. 

In the first vote following these investiture debates, any presidential candidate would need to win with a clear majority: 176 or more ‘yes’ votes. However, Pedro Sánchez already knew he would not reach this mark, and is instead looking at Tuesday’s second vote where just a simple majority is needed — more ‘yes’ votes than ‘no’. 

Agreeing with other parties, specifically ERC in this case, to abstain in the voting gives the candidate a better chance of being invested into the highest office in the country. 

How Catalan parties voted

Esquerra, after coming to an agreement with the Socialists, abstained from the vote, which means Sánchez could not become president today, but should enable him to do so on Tuesday.

Junts per Catalunya voted no in Sunday’s vote and are expected to maintain that position on Tuesday. They were not convinced by the Socialists’ promises of dialogue, and spokesperson Laura Borràs said in congress that independence seekers are “at the whim of Spanish justice.”

Jaume Asens of En Comú Podem, the Catalan allies of Unidas Podemos forming the coalition government with the Socialists, said that "Today, like yesterday, we have the political obligation to heal the social and territorial injuries provoked by [right-wing parties]." On Sunday morning it was announced that Catalan sociologist Manuel Castells, of the communes parties, would be the Minister for Universities in Pedro Sánchez’s cabinet. 

The independence issue loomed over the entire debate, and was one of the biggest points of the unionist right during the discussions in congress. The leader of the People's Party, Pablo Casado, called on his Socialist counterpart to ask the Catalan president to quit or execute direct rule over Catalonia. "Otherwise you would be breaching your official duty," he adds, threatening legal action. PP voted against Sánchez's investiture.

Santiago Abascal of the far-right Vox party, who also voted against Sánchez, said that "Quim Torra must be arrested," following the electoral board's decision on Friday evening to oust Catalan president. "We will never back a government that risks national unity," he added. The Catalan parliament formally rejected the electoral authority’s decision with a motion on Saturday night. 

Mireia Vehí of the pro-independence CUP party said that we are living in an "exceptional" political climate. "There is exceptionality when the far-right is a private prosecutor against a Catalan president," says the CUP MP. She received various shouts from right-wing parties in the chamber during her speech. CUP maintained that they "do not trust" the agreement between ERC and the Socialists and did not vote for Sánchez to be president, but nevertheless affirmed that they want to see their distrust proven wrong. 

Ciutadans accused the candidate for the Spanish presidency of "humiliating himself" before the pro-independence ERC. Cs leader Inés Arrimadas called on Socialist MPs not to follow leadership instructions when voting, and also rejected Sánchez as president.

In some of the closing remarks, Adriana Lastra, spokesperson of the Socialist party, made reference to Catalonia, and affirmed the need for dialogue in this “time to be brave.” 

“It’s going to take time, we know, but we can do it,” she said, referring to solving the political conflict that has gripped the country for the last number of years. “It is the time for democracy, and for the left. Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.” 

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  • Pedro Sánchez speaks in the Spanish congress during the debate over his investiture as presidet on January 5, 2020 (by Jordi Vidal)

  • Pedro Sánchez speaks in the Spanish congress during the debate over his investiture as presidet on January 5, 2020 (by Jordi Vidal)

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