Spanish president calls snap general election for April 28
Pedro Sánchez calls fresh polls after government budget rejected
President Pedro Sánchez has called a snap election in Spain for April 28, after his government’s 2019 budget was rebuffed in a crucial parliamentary vote this week.
Sánchez’s announcement on Friday signals the end of his short-lived presidency, after the Socialist leader ousted the conservative Mariano Rajoy from power in a no-confidence vote last June.
The Catalan pro-independence ERC and PDeCAT parties, whose votes helped oust Rajoy and put the Socialists in power, rejected the spending plan in Congress on Wednesday, after Sánchez failed to meet their demands for concessions on self-determination or the independence leaders now on trial in Spain's Supreme Court.
"[Catalan pro-independence parties] will have to explain why they overturned the budget when it was a good social roadmap for Catalonia"
Pedro Sánchez · Spanish president
On Friday, Sánchez questioned the decision of the pro-independence parties to withhold their support for the plan, saying they "will have to explain why they overturned the budget when it was a good social roadmap for Catalonia."
However, the president saved most of his criticism for the right-wing opposition parties, which he blamed for "blocking" the budget due to their "absurd debate" over his government's dialogue with the Catalan executive.
"When right-wing parties rallied in Colón square, they were not protesting against Catalan independence, but against the Spanish president. The question is: what kind of Spain do we want? Right-wing parties argue for a Spain where there's only space for them. We want an inclusive Spain, where everybody can find a place," he said.
🔴Sánchez vindicates the "legitimacy" of his presidency after opposition leaders accuse him of "high treason" for negotiating with pro-independence parties: "Our goal was uniting Spaniards, not dividing them"— Catalan News (@catalannews) February 15, 2019
Sánchez also accused the opposition of failing to show the same "loyalty" to the government that his Socialist party showed to the previous conservative government: "The PP government had the institutional loyalty of the Socialists. But they were not loyal, not only to us, but to Spain," he said.
The president also praised the work done by his short-lived government, saying, "we’ve been willing to compromise with those who think differently. We’re pro-Europe, progressive, left-leaning, and not a single OECD country has had more female ministers than us."
Pledging that his Socialist government would continue "to work until the last moment of the term," the president also called on voters to turn out for the election, and "not just those on the left, but all of the public, because at stake is the future of our country," he said.
Sánchez fast-tracks exhumation of Franco
The Spanish president will try to make the best out of his time left in office. On Friday, one of his ministers announced the imminent exhumation of Spain's late dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum, in Madrid.
The government set a 15-day deadline for relatives to chose an alternative burial place after rejecting their first proposal, the Almudena cathedral.