Spain’s king taps Socialist Sanchez to form government

Spain's King Felipe VI (R) welcomes acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L), during an audience at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on 11 December 2019. [EPA-EFE/KIKO HUESCA / POOL]

Spain’s King Felipe VI has tasked acting Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to form a government after the country’s second inconclusive election in less than seven months, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

Minutes after the announcement on Wednesday evening (11 December), Sanchez said he had accepted the task and added that next Monday, he and the Socialist Party (PSOE) will launch a series of contacts with all the parties in the lower house of parliament “to see if we can find a broader majority.”

“No other alternative is possible” in light of the results of the 10 November election, Sanchez said in an appearance before the press, and he urged the other parties to accept their responsibilities so that the country can finally have a government “as soon as possible”.

Sanchez did not offer any date for a vote in parliament on a new administration, and said only that it will first be necessary to define “the what, and second is the when.”

“Spain needs a period of stability. The alternative is government or misgovernment,” he said.

A “progressive coalition”

Spain has had only an acting government since April, during a phase of political instability that has forced it to hold four elections within the past four years.

Sanchez agreed on 12 November to form a coalition government with the leftist Unidas Podemos (UP) party, but the PSOE and UP only hold 155 of the 350 seats in the lower house, so they need to make a deal with other parties to get a parliamentary majority.

PSOE leaders have for weeks been meeting with the ERC, a left-leaning Catalan separatist party with 14 seats, to at least get its members to abstain in a motion to proclaim Sanchez as prime minister.

The acting prime minister ruled out the option of trying to forge a coalition with the conservative Popular Party and the centre-right Ciudadanos, insisting that he wants to form a government with a “clearly progressive” orientation, as per his agreement with the UP.

The November elections were a repeat of the 28 April ballot, in which Sanchez won the most votes, but was still short of a majority. He was then unable to strike a deal with the UP.

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