INVESTITURE DEBATE

After Pedro Sánchez loses investiture vote, what happens now?

Relations between the Socialist Party and Podemos have been left in tatters after debate

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias during the debate on Wednesday.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias during the debate on Wednesday.JAVIER LIZÓN / (EFE)

Have relations between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos now broken down completely? After Wednesday’s investiture vote, at which PSOE chief Pedro Sánchez only found the support of his own party and center-right group Ciudadanos, the answer looks like it is yes.

The leader of left-wing anti-austerity group Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, had already announced that he would be rejecting the bid between the PSOE and Ciudadanos to form a minority government, and as such would vote against Sánchez’s first attempt to become prime minister. All other parties in Spain’s Congress followed suit, leaving Sánchez with just 90 votes from his own group and 40 from Ciudadanos, well short of the 176 he needed for a majority and with 219 votes in total against him and one abstention.

The harsh attacks aimed at the PSOE chief during the full day of debate in Spain’s lower house on Wednesday have broken the bridges of dialogue between the two leftist parties

The harsh attacks aimed at the PSOE chief during the full day of debate in Spain’s lower house on Wednesday have broken the bridges of dialogue between the two leftist parties. Now Sánchez will face another vote on Friday, at which he needs just a simple majority – more yes votes than no – to be successful.

Assuming the result is the same as Wednesday, from Monday onward Iglesias and Podemos will be able to resume negotiations. They will have a two-month period to reach a deal before new elections have to be called. While it is still unclear as to whether King Felipe VI will invite Sánchez to try and form a government once more, it is in all the parties’ interest to show willing, and at least try and reach a deal.

After Wednesday’s marathon session, the Podemos leader called on all the forces across the leftist spectrum to sit down and negotiate from a position of “equality and joint responsibility.” The emerging political force is determined to form a “government of progress” with representatives from the PSOE, Podemos, United Left and Compromís. “From Friday,” Iglesias told reporters, “it would be good news to hear that all of the forces for a progressive coalition government have met.” In his opinion, the failed attempt of Sánchez in the first vote shows that his party’s “deal with Ciudadanos does not make for a government.”

Sánchez, meanwhile, insisted on Wednesday that a deal between all of the leftist parties in Congress is not sufficient to create an alternative government to that of the Popular Party’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. That was why he sought a cross-party deal, between the left and right, although in the end he was only able to seal a deal with Ciudadanos.

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