With Strengthened Support From Catalan Separatists, Spain’s Sánchez Aims For PM Position


Pedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain, has vowed to make a coalition government between Spain and Catalonia, ending months of stalled political advancement. This would be a groundbreaking move, creating Spain’s first coalition government. As a socialist leader, he has brought something new to the political sphere in Spain, along with Pablo Iglesias, head of the leftist party Unidas Podemos. Together, the two parties only account for 155 seats in Parliament, not acquiescing the 350 majority seats needed. Sánchez has received the confidence he needs to move forward through support of Spain’s largest separatist party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC). This party has confirmed that it would abstain instead of opposing Sánchez in the second and final vote this Tuesday. However, this might have been pressured decision considering Spain’s electoral board blocked Oriol Junqueras, ERC’s imprisoned leader, from joining the European parliament as a member. The board has also taken the role of regional lawmaker from Catalonia’s Regional Chief Quim Torra, an ERC ally and a supporter of independence. Sánchez needs the support of small regional parties in order to win and create a united Spain. He is not expected to win the vote on Saturday as a victory would require a complete majority of 176 members out of all 350 lawmakers in the Spanish Parliament. However, he does plan to win a second vote on Tuesday as he would only need to achieve more votes in favour than against. 

To begin weeks of debates, Sánchez told deputies, “what is going to break is the blockade of a progressive government democratically elected by the Spanish people.” According to the BBC, “[Sánchez] lamented the ‘toxic atmosphere’ in Spanish politics, telling MPs he would strive for dialogue, human rights and social justice.” Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative People’s Party, has expressed his opinion regarding Sánchez’s need to unseat Torra. During the debate, Casado said regarding the matter, “surrendering to the worst radicals may make you prime minister, but you will not be able to govern.” 

Sánchez has stated that he will stay within the limitations of Spain’s constitution when regarding Catalonia’s plea for independence. The constitution does not allow regions to break away from the central government, and Catalonia’s insistence on doing so, as well as a 2017 banned referendum, has caused a concerning political crisis for Spain, the worst in many years. His decision could influence suspended chaos in Spanish politics, a welcomed retreat from the upheaval citizens have faced in recent years. Sánchez has taken productive actions for the well being of Spanish citizens, like raising the minimum wage and allowing in the Aquarius migrant rescue vessel. His sustained role as prime minister could welcome an encouraging era of democracy for Spain. The minor support of the ERC is also a relatively good sign as the separatist party agreed to not vote against him and to retain some semblance of peace. 

In 2018, Sánchez took the opportunity to leverage power over Conservative Popular Party Leader Mariano Rajoy. Rajoy’s case introduced a new era into post-Franco democratic Spain, as he was ousted in a no-confidence vote regarding a public funding scandal. He then secured political victory for the Spanish Socialist Workers project. The success didn’t last long, following the withdrawn support from Catalan Nationalists. Sánchez managed to have a small victory over the long held Catalonian crisis in Spain, having made an agreement with the biggest Catalan separatist party, ERC, to abstain. 

The fight for independence among Catalonians is not over, and the ERC will surely continue to advocate for separation, though their acquiescence to Sanchez’s campaign in parliament is a positive sign. Sánchez’s hope to win the election on Saturday is a beacon for democracy in a divided and politically torn Spain. If he wins, it is believed that he will look towards a legal, constitutional way to include Catalonia in future parliamentary decisions, and for the country to move forward, with communication, and in peaceful dissent.

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