Pedro Sánchez has failed again in the second round of votes to be named Spanish president in congress. The Socialists won only 124 votes, with 155 against – including that of pro-independence Junts per Catalunya – and there were 67 abstentions – including anti-austerity Unidas Podemos, its Catalan allies En Comú Podem, and pro-independence ERC.
After this failure, a two-month clock starts running – if in this time Spanish lawmakers do not succeed in naming a president, a snap election will be automatically called for November 10. The risk of a Spanish snap election grows after the vote, as the only chance to avoid it is for left-wing Socialists and Podemos to resume dialogue and reach an agreement, with some other abstentions – this, if King Felipe appoints Sánchez again as a candidate for president in the near future.
During the parliamentary debate prior to the vote, acting president Sánchez admitted that talks with Unidas Podemos have been unsuccessful, and strongly criticized the party’s head Pablo Iglesias for their failure. With the disagreement stemming from the distribution of strategic ministries, Sánchez spoke directly to Iglesias: “Mr. Iglesias, you continue to not understand that Spain needs a united government, not two governments.”
Sánchez has recognized pro-independence ERC’s readiness to “facilitate” his nomination “in exchange for nothing”.
Pro-independence parties disagree
The first pro-independence party to speak on Thursday was Esquerra Republicana, with Gabriel Rufián highlighting how pleased the right-wing parties are over the failed agreements between the Socialists and Unidas Podemos, which he said were a mistake. Rufián also brought mentioned his party leader, Oriol Junqueras, who remains in precautionary detention after 21 months, and gave a children’s book written by him to both Sánchez and Iglesias.
On the other hand, Junts per Catalunya’s Laura Borràs did not back down and reaffirmed her intent to vote against Sánchez’s bid for how he has been dealing with the Catalan independence issue.
The People’s Party, Ciutadans, and Vox have taken the stand today to criticize Sánchez for his failure to forge a deal. People’s Party’s Pablo Casado has accused Sánchez of only seeking alliances with “those who want to abolish the monarchy, who see the Constitution as a padlock, who relativize the criminality of ETA and want Catalonia’s independence,” describing the left-wing talks as “a disgrace.”
Ciutadan’s Albert Rivera continued to criticize Sánchez by calling the failed talks between the Socialists and Unidas Podemos a “show.” According to Rivera, talks Sánchez and Iglesias were not able to reach an agreement because of their “ego.”
On the other hand, Vox’s Santiago Abascal said that he would never approve of a government that depeneded on what he described as coup-mongering pro-indpendence Catalans.
When it was Pablo Iglesias’ turn to take the stand, he replied to Sánchez’s accusations by saying that it is hard to make deals with a party that modifies and leaks documents to the press. He was still willing, however, to not lead the labor ministry in exchange for being in charge of active labor policies.