Alberto Nunes Feijoo
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Spanish conservative leader Alberto Nunes Feijoa will have his chance to form a new government this week – something that was previously ruled a doomsday given his lack of parliamentary support.
Feihoo’s People’s Party won the most votes in the inconclusive general election on July 23, which left all parties far enough away from an absolute majority to complicate their path to power.
If Feijoo fails to form a government, as expected, then incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will get his right to try to stay at Moncloa Palace (the residence of Spain’s prime minister – ed.) as long as he collects on the other hand, the heterogeneous group of left-wing, locally patriotic and even separatist parties.
Here’s what you need to know about the situation surrounding Feijoo’s mandate to form a government, whose attempt will begin tomorrow with his speech in the Spanish parliament.
The leader of the People’s Party, Spain’s traditional center-right force, will have two options to become the next prime minister of the European Union’s fourth-largest economy. But if there is no surprise, he will lose both MPs’ votes for his cabinet.
Puigdemont has set tough conditions for supporting a future Spanish prime minister
On Wednesday, 24 hours after the parliamentary debate, Feijoo will need an absolute majority of 176 votes from the 350-member lower house of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid (Congress of Deputies – note ed.).
If he does not reach that quota, on Friday the bar will be lowered and the candidate for power will simply need more votes for than against. Such a scenario would open up the possibility of abstention votes tipping the scales in his favor.
The People’s Party has the most parliamentary mandates – one hundred and thirty-seven. But even with the thirty-three votes of the far-right party “Vox” and two more of the small conservative parties from the Navarre region and from the Canary Islands, they still fall short of four votes.
It looks like Feihoo’s chance depends on someone not voting, and that would be a surprise.
Catalonia’s two separatist parties, which could be a factor, have both ruled out the possibility of an “abstention” from their MPs, given that they describe the Popular Party’s attitude towards their secessionist movement as militant.
Catalans supported Sánchez in parliament, reducing the likelihood of early elections
That leaves the conservative Basque Nationalist Party, which has said no deal is possible linking it with the Vox party, which insists on a centralized state and would not condemn a 20th-century Francisco Franco-style dictator.
“There is an elephant that is not even in the room; it is in the living room and it is blocking any access of the BNP to any relationship (with Feijoo) and that elephant is Vox,” BNP president Andoni Ortusar told Spanish national radio.
The difficulties for Feijoo became apparent last month when the Socialists, although the second parliamentary force in the lower house, managed to collect more votes than his People’s Party in the election of a Socialist for the post of Speaker (Francina Armengol – note ed.).
A loss of the vote by Feihoo would automatically trigger a two-month period in which other candidates would take the stage to seek parliamentary approval to form a new government. If no candidate passes the test, then parliament will be dissolved on November 27 and new elections will be scheduled for January 14.
Sánchez and his partners have already taken for granted that Feijoo will fail, and are now working to gather the supporters needed to repeat the left-wing coalition of the Socialists and the left-leaning Sumar movement.
However, the price will be high. Sanchez will also depend on the possible support of the Catalan separatist party “Junts” (“Junts per Catalunya” – “Together for Catalonia” – ed.), whose leader Carles Puigdemont is in exile in Brussels, where he is an MEP.
Puigdemont left Spain in 2017 after leading a failed Catalan independence movement. Although support for separatist parties fell in July’s elections at the expense of Catalonia’s socialist-led unionist parties (seeking national unity – ed.), Puigdemont now wields the power of a balancer thanks to Junts’ seven parliamentary seats. .
The elections in Spain – four conclusions after the failed breakthrough of the far-right
His condition is nothing more than an amnesty for an unspecified number of Catalan separatists, possibly several thousand, who are in trouble with the law for their part in the separatist rebellion six years ago.
Such an amnesty would not have met with widespread approval in Spain, especially given that Puigdemont and many of his followers were unrepentant after nearly wrecking the state.
While none of the Socialists have publicly spoken out in favor of an amnesty, Sánchez has in the past pardoned high-ranking leaders of the movement and seems willing to discuss an even greater act of magnanimity with the goal of, as he puts it, “normalizing ” the political situation in Catalonia, located in the Spanish Northeast.
With the controversy over a possible amnesty overshadowing the debate over his own fate, Feijoo is trying to use the division created by the prospect of a pardon to boost his slim chances.
Sánchez rejected a request by Spanish conservatives to back a 2-year rule
The Popular Party called a protest rally in Madrid on Sunday against the possible amnesty, and its members called on disgruntled Socialists to back Feijoo to prevent Sanchez from striking a deal with the separatists.
Alberto Núñez Feijo will face criticism from within his own party if he fails to become prime minister. Sixty-two-year-old Feijoo has spent most of his political career as a modest local leader in Spain’s agricultural northwestern corner of Galicia.
Perceived as a moderate politician, he is already feeling pressure from supporters of the more straight-line Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the popular premier of the Madrid region, who has repeatedly clashed with Sánchez during the COVID-19 pandemic over anti-epidemic measures imposed by the federal government.
Footage from the rally against the amnesty on September 24