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Protests outside Andalusian parliament as investiture debate begins

Feminist groups took to the streets to demonstrate against the policies of far-right party Vox, whose votes will be key to seeing Juan Manuel Moreno of the Popular Party voted in as premier

Juan Manuel Moreno addresses the Andalusian parliament.
Juan Manuel Moreno addresses the Andalusian parliament. EL PAÍS

The southern Spanish region of Andalusia is getting ready for a political change that will be “calm” and “conciliatory,” according to Juan Manuel Moreno, the Popular Party (PP) politician who is set to become the new regional premier.

“The end of a political cycle has arrived,” he said, speaking inside the Andalusian parliament on Tuesday at the first session of a two-day investiture debate. Moreno said that the shift to the right after 36 years of rule in the region by the Socialist Party (PSOE) will be smooth.

I am convinced that unemployment is not an insurmountable curse in Andalusia

Juan Manuel Moreno

At a regional election on December 2, the PSOE lost its absolute majority while a far-right party called Vox made unprecedented inroads, securing 12 seats that gave it a decisive role in naming the next government.

Moreno, who has secured support from the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) and Vox for his bid, said that political change “is the antidote against cronyism and corruption,” in a reference to scandals affecting the PSOE in Andalusia, such as the ERE case involving the misappropriation of public funds to pay severance to laid-off workers.

During his speech, Moreno said that jobs will be his priority in a region with a jobless rate of 22.5%. “I am convinced that unemployment is not an insurmountable curse in Andalusia.” While acknowledging that “good things have been done in Andalusia,” Moreno said the Socialists are to blame for the region’s low scores on many fronts.

Protests outside the Andalusian parliament on Tuesday.
Protests outside the Andalusian parliament on Tuesday. GTRES

“Andalusia has not made the most of its self-government or of the billions of euros in European funds that we have had access to over these past decades. The reasons can be attributed to policies whose goal was not Andalusia’s progress, but maintaining a party in power at all cost,” said Moreno.

Feminist protests

While the assembled lawmakers participated in the investiture debate, thousands of people – 2,000 according to government figures, 10,000 according to organizers – were protesting outside against a potential reduction of women’s rights given the policies supported by far-right party Vox.

“This is a preventive demonstration,” said Diego Valderas, a former speaker of the Andalusian parliament who is a member of the United Left (IU).

The stated goal of the protest was to “reject the shameful governing pacts in Andalusia that are negotiating our rights while denying the unquestionable reality of gender violence, and threatening to repeal laws and resources that we consider non-negotiable.” More protests are scheduled for Tuesday evening (see the map here).

Barring last-minute surprises, Moreno will be voted in on Wednesday

Feminist groups have vowed to fight proposals put forward by Vox, which originally included the repeal of regional legislation affording special protection to women and LGTBI groups. Vox had made this a condition for supporting the PP candidate, but it has since dropped these demands.

But Vox representatives have repeatedly spoken out against abortion and against public subsidies for “radical feminist groups.” The party also wants the new government to include a special department for family affairs to foster policies that will increase the birth rate.

The IU and PSOE have announced that they will encourage social activism under the new administration to prevent a regression in rights. Both parties have described themselves as “a dam against the far right.”

Vox itself will not be part of the new administration, which is being shared out between the PP and Ciudadanos after these two parties reached a governing deal of their own. But Vox holds the key to getting legislation passed, and it is already planning to introduce a new budget proposal in June.

A second investiture debate will be held on Wednesday, followed by a vote. Barring a last-minute surprise, Moreno will secure an absolute majority of votes: 26 from the PP, 21 from Ciudadanos and 12 from Vox. The inauguration is scheduled for Friday.

English version by Susana Urra.

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