With Renewed Support From Catalan Separatists, Spain’s Sanchez Seeks Backing As PM

Pedro Sanchez, acting Prime Minister of Spain, has vowed to build a coalition government between Spain and Catalonia, ending months of stalled political advancement. Sanchez has received continued support from separatists, and this move to create the first Spanish coalition government would be groundbreaking. As the socialist leader, he has brought something new to the political sphere in Spain, along with Pablo Iglesias, head of the left-leaning party Unidas Pomedos. Together, the two parties account for 155 seats in Parliament, close to the 176 out of 350 seats needed for a majority.

Sanchez has received the confidence he needs to move forward through the support of Spain’s largest separatist party, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), which confirmed that it would abstain, instead of opposing Sanchez in the second and final vote this Tuesday. However, this might have been a 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 Tora (an ERC ally), and a supporter of independence. However, Sanchez needs the support of small regional parties in order to win and create a united Spain. He is not expected to win the vote, which takes place on Saturday, and 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. In this vote, he would only need to achieve more votes in favour than against, which could lead to his success.

To begin weeks of debates, Sanchez told deputies, “What is going to break is the blockade of a progressive government democratically elected by the Spanish people”. According to the BBC, “He 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 opinions regarding Sanchez’ need to unseat Tora. 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”.

Sanchez has stated that he will stay within the limitations of Spain’s constitution, 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. His decision could influence suspended chaos in Spanish politics, a welcomed retreat from the upheaval citizens have faced in recent years. Sanchez has taken productive actions for the wellbeing of Spanish citizens, like raising the minimum wage and allowing in the Aquarius migrant vessel. His sustained role as prime minister could welcome in 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 note vote against him and retain some semblance of peace.

In 2018 Sanchez took the opportunity to leverage power over the Conservative Popular Party (PP) leader Mariana 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. Sanchez managed to have a small victory over the longheld Catalonian crisis in Spain, having made an agreement with the biggest Catalan separatist party, ERC, to abstain.

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