Is Spain about to change government? A good four weeks after the parliamentary elections, King Felipe VI. proposed the previous leader of the opposition as prime minister. If the conservative Alberto Nunez Feijoo gets a sufficient majority in the newly elected parliament in Madrid, he would replace the socialist Pedro Sanchez, who has been in power up to now.
The Spanish Royal Palace said on Tuesday evening that Feijoos Partido Popular (PP) had won the largest number of seats, and that it was “common practice” under the Spanish Constitution to nominate the leader of this party. Feijoo now has the task of standing up for a vote in parliament – where, as things stand, he does not have a governing majority.
Francina Armengol, the speaker of the parliament elected last week, announced on Tuesday evening that she would contact Feijoo shortly to set the date for the investiture parliamentary vote. Feijoo said he thanks King Felipe for his decision. His party will give a voice to citizens who “want change”.
Consultations of the King
Before his announcement, Felipe VI. met both Feijoo and the incumbent Prime Minister Sanchez for talks. Both had subsequently declared their willingness to face a vote in Parliament in the event of a proposal by the king. Before Sanchez and Feijoo, the monarch had met the head of the far-right Vox party, Santiago Ascabal.
When voting to elect a head of government, a candidate needs the votes of at least 176 of the 350 MPs in the first round. In the second round, however, a relative majority is sufficient. Feijoo can currently hope for the 137 votes of his PP party and those of the 33 Vox MPs – and with a total of 172 votes would therefore remain below the threshold for a majority.
The House of Commons must now set the date for the vote on the 61-year-old politician’s candidacy. However, this cannot take place before August 28th
After meeting the king, Sanchez pointed out that he “obviously” had a larger number of votes at his disposal. The Social Democrat alluded to the election of his party colleague Armengol as Speaker of Parliament last week: Armengol received a total of 178 votes, for which the Social Democrats and left-wing parties, as well as the Catalan separatists from the ERC and Junts parties, voted.
key role of the Separatists
That number of votes would be enough for a government majority. The Junts party and its top representative, Carles Puigdemont, who lives in exile, could also play a key role in the election of the next prime minister. Puigdemont failed six years ago in an attempt to separate the wealthy region of Catalonia from Spain by referendum. However, the Catalan separatists have so far left open whether they would be willing to help Sanchez regain the post of prime minister.
After the first candidacy was rejected by the House of Commons, the clock would start ticking: If the country still has no government two months later, new elections must be called. This should take place within the next 47 days. In this case it would probably be around the turn of the year. Quite a few fear a long political stalemate in the fourth largest economy in the European Union, which currently holds the EU Council Presidency.
AR/wa (afp, rtr)