Written by Helder Ferreira de Vale
On November 17, Pedro Sánchez was sworn in as Prime Minister of Spain for the third time. Against all odds, the pragmatic Prime Minister established a minority government with the support of seven parties representing a wide range of ideologies. Mr. Sánchez’s party, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), finished in second place in the June election with 122 members (31.7% of the vote), despite the fact that Congress’s support for Mr. Sánchez’s appointment as prime minister remained unresolved. Collected. Sanchez, who has been in power since 2017, received 179 votes from 350 members of parliament in a snap election held on June 23.
The conservative People’s Party (PP) won the most seats in parliament with 136 members (33.05% of the vote). To get to the magic number of 176 seats, it would therefore have needed to work with the far-right Box, which won 33 seats. This is the first time that a far-right party has joined Spain’s ruling coalition. However, the two parties combined did not reach 176 seats, and the PP was unable to form a government.
Spain is resisting global trends by establishing the new Sanchez government. The decline of democracy, particularly in Europe, has led to the establishment of coalition governments between conservatives and far-right groups in many countries. The Netherlands, where the far-right Freedom Party won several seats, may soon be the next country to fall into this trend.
Sanchez spoke of the need to build a “wall” against the right. In light of the alarming attacks on democracy in Brazil and the United States, President Sanchez reaffirmed his determination to combat any attacks on democracy in Spain.
Amnesty for Catalan separatists
Unlike the PP, the Socialist Party negotiated support for Catalan separatist parliamentarians in exchange for an amnesty law. Amnesty International plans to pardon those involved in Catalonia’s illegal independence attempts in 2014 and 2017.
Saches’s main support came from two separatist parties, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) and the conservative Together for Catalonia (JxC), each of which gave him seven precious votes. His most sought-after support came from the JxC, which had strengthened its separatist position during the Catalan independence process.
JXC leader Carles Puigdemont fled Spain in 2017, when he was president of Catalonia, to avoid legal action during the independence process. The amnesty law was negotiated directly with fugitive Mr. Puigdemont in Belgium and pardons all his crimes and the crimes of 400 others.
The right is up in arms demanding amnesty
However, there are notable contradictions in the amnesty deal. Rather than promoting democratic coexistence, it is encouraging further polarization. Puigdemont insists on acting for Catalonia’s independence, despite benefiting from an amnesty granted by the Spanish government. Far from quelling political controversy, this contradiction sparked mass demonstrations led by the far-right Vox and the conservative PP.
The reaction of these parties to the amnesty was to mobilize activity on the streets of the major cities, holding up Francoist symbols and slogans. In Congress, members of these parties began speaking about what was already being said on the streets: that the Sánchez government was illegitimate.
The Vox Party categorizes the agreements that led to the renewal of the Sánchez government as follows: coup d’etat. Mobilization also extended to the internet. PP launched a campaign using the hashtag #helpspainAnd on the X account, one party member suggested that Sanchez “deserved to be shot in the back of the head.”
Misinformation about amnesty is driving the radicalized response. Contrary to speculation, pardons are allowed in the Spanish Constitution and Spain already has an amnesty law in place. Moreover, agreements with separatists have often been used in the past to elect the country’s prime minister.
Voter disagreements over amnesty have deepened the divide and pushed Spain further from resolving its territorial crisis. Within Catalonia, only 20% and 6% of Catalan PP and Vox voters support the amnesty law, while 49% of Socialist Party voters support it.
There is concern among separatist voters that Vox, which was founded in 2013 with a strongly nationalist, anti-separatist platform, will eventually join the Spanish government. It is therefore natural that separatist parties support the Socialist government. In addition to containing far-right forces, Spain’s socialist-led government has historically embraced the idea of a “Catalan state” more openly, granting autonomy to Spanish regions.
For the past 45 years, Spain has celebrated the diversity of its different regions. Although Spain is a unitary democracy, the regions have significant autonomy. Today, this multidisciplinary model is exhausted. Neither the separatist ambitions of Spanish supremacists nor monolithic nationalism are compatible with the current system. But ironically, it is Spain’s separatist parties on the left and right that have made it resilient to the global democratic downturn. But such resistance comes at a high price. Only time will tell how much a deal between Sanchez and the Leave campaigners will cost.
- About the author: Helder Ferreira do Vale is a visiting professor at the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), Brazil. He served as an associate professor at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University (XJTLU) in China and the Korea University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) in South Korea. His research interests include federalism, comparative politics, and democratization. His work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals. He has previously held academic positions at the University of Barcelona, the University of Lisbon, the University of Cape Town and the Hanse-Wissenschaft Institute for Advanced Study (HWK). He has also worked in the Spanish Presidency, as well as in several international organizations such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). He received his PhD from the European University Institute EUI (Florence, Italy), Johns received his master’s degree from Hopkins University (Washington, DC, USA), and Richmond received his bachelor’s degree from American International University (London, UK). is being obtained.
- Source: This article was published by Fair Observer