Socialist Leader Pedro Sanchez Sworn in As Spain’s New Prime Minister
On Saturday, socialist figure, Pedro Sanchez, was sworn in as Spain’s new prime minister by King Felipe. He took the oath just a day after ousting his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, through a vote of no-confidence that arose out of a corruption scandal.
In the inauguration ceremony at the royal residence, the 46-year-old politician promised to “faithfully fulfill” his duties “with conscience and honor, with loyalty to the king, and to guard and have guarded the constitution as a fundamental state rule”.
Sanchez and his Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) were the initiators of the no-confidence motion which passed on Friday by 180 – 169, with one abstaining. Spain’s constitution states that the party initiating the no-confidence motion must then replace the deposed prime minister if the motion passes. Rajoy is the first Spanish prime minister to be toppled by a no-confidence motion. The outgoing Rajoy’s reputation was ruined by a corruption case within his Popular Party and aided by Catalonia’s push for independence.
Theoretically, Sanchez will govern until mid-2020, when the parliamentary election is held. It is unclear whether his government can survive with only 84 out of 350 representatives of Spain’s Congress belonging to his Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE).
What Pedro Sanchez’s appointment means to Catalonia
Sanchez came to power because of the support from the far-left Podemos, two Catalan pro-independence parties (PD DeCat and the Catalan Republican Left) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). So now it’s the Catalan leaders’ turn to ask for something in return.
The rising center-right Ciudadanos legislator, Toni Canto, predicted that Sanchez’s PSOE would give Podemos ministerial posts. While Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera said Cuidadanos would closely monitor any concessions the PSOE grants to Basque and Catalan nationalist groups.
On the same day Pedro Sanchez was sworn in, Catalonia’s regional government formed a new cabinet. The election of a new cabinet ended Madrid’s rule, as stipulated in the Spanish constitution. Catalan’s new leader Quim Torra will not include members of his predecessor Carlos Puigdemont’s party. Puigdemont is now in exile in Germany.
Torra stressed the importance of a dialogue between pro-independence groups and the Madrid administration.
“Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, let’s talk, let’s address this issue, let’s take risks, you and us,” Torra stated just after Sanchez was inaugurated.
Sanchez said he wants to talk to separatist groups, but rejects the idea for an independent Catalonia. The new prime minister recognized that both Catalonia and Basque are nations within Spain, not merely regions, a statement Rajoy and previous leaders had never made before.
“This is symbolically important because Mr. Rajoy never did so”, said Xavier Torrens, a political science lecturer at Barcelona University.