Spain PM loses first parliament vote - GulfToday

Spain PM loses first parliament vote

Spain-PM

Pedro Sanchez (bottom left) gestures while socialist MPs applaud at the Spanish parliament in Madrid on Tuesday. Associated Press

Spanish caretaker prime minister Pedro Sanchez lost a first parliamentary confidence vote on Tuesday as he seeks to remain in power after an inconclusive general election.

A second, decisive vote has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon, before which Sanchez needs to reach a coalition deal with far-left Podemos, a party that was once an arch-rival.

If he manages to form a coalition government, it would be the first in post-dictatorship Spain.

If he fails to reach an agreement, Spain will hold its fourth elections in as many years.

A total of 124 lawmakers in the 350-seat parliament voted for the Socialist premier in Tuesday’s vote, leaving him well short of the absolute majority he needed.

Sanchez is currently caretaker premier after coming first in the April general election but without the majority he needed with just 123 seats, forcing him to look for support.

But Podemos and regional parties that could back Sanchez have lashed out, accusing him of not properly reaching out to possible allies despite needing their help.

The second vote on Thursday requires only a simple majority.

With the support of Podemos’s 42 lawmakers, and a few others from small regional parties, he could get through.

But given the anger of these potential allies, that support looks uncertain.

Sanchez’s Socialist party (PSOE) has been locked in negotiations with Podemos for months and only recently reluctantly agreed to form a coalition government with them.

But Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias accused the socialists of refusing to give his party positions that carry any kind of weight and wanting them to be “mere decor” in the government, in a parliamentary debate on Monday.

“We have to talk about content, we have to talk about programmes, and not so much about who will occupy the blue seats,” Sanchez retorted on Tuesday, in reference to the places reserved for the cabinet in parliament.

In the end, Podemos lawmakers abstained in the vote. Catalan separatist party ERC, meanwhile, accused Sanchez of being “irresponsible” for not appearing to want to negotiate with anyone.

It also slammed him for not having mentioned the separatist crisis in Catalonia in his Monday speech to parliament.

Agence France-Presse