Spain’s King Felipe VI on Tuesday tasked outgoing Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez with forming the next government, the parliamentary speaker said.
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If Sanchez is to be reinstated as premier, he will need to pass a key parliamentary vote for which he will need the backing of a hardline Catalan separatist party cast in the role of kingmaker.
The move comes just four days after right-wing opposition leader Alberto Nunez-Feijoo failed in his own bid to win parliamentary support to be inaugurated as prime minister.
After talks with Spain’s political parties, the king has “informed me of his decision to put forward Pedro Sanchez as the candidate for prime minister”, speaker Francina Armengol announced.
Sanchez will now have to seek support from at least 176 lawmakers within the 350-seat parliament in the vote which must take place before November 27.
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If he fails, Spain will automatically be forced to hold new elections, most likely in mid-January.
Sanchez said he accepted the king’s offer and would start talks with the different parliamentary groups on Wednesday.
“I will meet with all the different parliamentary parties except the far-right Vox, obviously,” he said.
“I will work to form a progressive coalition government comprising the Socialist Party and (the radical left) Sumar as soon as possible with enough support to guarantee the stability Spain needs to continue promoting progressive policies and coexistence,” he said.
In power since 2018, Sanchez has proved to be a tenacious political survivor and is confident he will be returned to power with the backing of Sumar along with Basque and Catalan regional parties.
But crucially, he will need the votes of seven JxCat lawmakers, who have demanded an amnesty for those facing legal action over the failed 2017 Catalan separatist bid.
Such a move is vehemently opposed by the right and also crosses a red line for some within Sanchez’s own Socialist party.