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Acting Spanish prime minister to face investiture vote on July 22

Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party hopes to be voted back into office, despite currently lacking the necessary support from other political groups, including his key partner Unidas Podemos

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. REUTERS

A first investiture vote, at which acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) may be voted back into power, was today set for July 23. Meritxell Batet, the speaker of Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies, made the announcement on Tuesday after speaking on the phone with Sánchez, who is currently in Brussels for the European Union summit to decide who will occupy the top posts in the European Union.

Speaker of Congress, Meritxell Batet.
Speaker of Congress, Meritxell Batet.

The investiture session will begin on July 22 with a debate in Congress. Sánchez will open the proceedings at 12pm, and after 4pm, spokespersons from the rest of the parliamentary groups will make a speech, in order of their representation in Congress.

The PSOE won the highest number of seats at the April 28 general election but fell short of an absolute majority, meaning Sánchez will need the votes of other parties to be reinstated as prime minister. The Socialists have 123 deputies in Congress but need an absolute majority of 176 votes if Sánchez is to be sworn in at the first investiture vote on July 23. If this fails, the Socialists need to secure a simple majority (more yes votes than no) at the second investiture vote that will be held 48 hours later on July 25.

If Sánchez is not sworn in at the second vote, he will have two months to try to secure the necessary votes or call new elections, which will fall on November 10.

“Spain needs a government as soon as possible to continue making progress in equality, the necessary ecological transition, digitalization and the strengthening of the European project. The investiture session will begin on July 22, as announced by the speaker of Congress.”

According to Batet, the date for the investiture was set with “the clear objective that the investiture succeeds and does not produce just a debate.” The speaker of Congress added that in their 10-minute phone conversation Sánchez did not speak about the possibility of repeating the investiture vote in September or calling new general elections.

Despite weeks of negotiations, Sánchez does not currently have the support he needs to be sworn in as prime minister. One of the main stumbling blocks has been the political stalemate between the Socialists and the left-wing anti-austerity group Unidas Podemos, which won 42 seats at the April polls. Sánchez and Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias had agreed to negotiate a “government of cooperation” but are refusing to budge from their respective positions over what this means. The PSOE leader is willing to offer Iglesias mid-level government positions but the anti-austerity chief wants Cabinet roles and ministries that will reflect his party’s weight relative to the PSOE in parliament (42 seats versus 123) – an idea Sánchez has rejected.

If Sánchez is not sworn in at the second vote, he will have two months to try to secure the necessary support

The right-wing Popular Party (PP) and center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens), with 66 and 57 seats, respectively, have refused to help reinstate Sánchez by abstaining from the vote. This means Unidas Podemos’ 42 votes will be crucial to ensuring the Socialist leader’s investiture bid is successful. 

But Iglesias has said his party will vote against Sánchez at the investiture vote in July if his group’s demands are not met. The anti-austerity leader has set his sights on a second investiture vote in summer to give him more time to negotiate and persuade Sánchez to give his party control of government ministries. The acting prime minister, however, has warned that the investiture will take place in July or not at all. According to some voter-intention polls and the results of the regional, municipal and European elections of May 26, repeat elections would benefit the PSOE and the PP, and disadvantage Ciudadanos, Unidas Podemos and the far-right Vox. But the outcome is difficult to predict, given the likely voter fatigue – it would be the fourth general election Spain has seen in just as many years.

Now that the date for the investiture vote has been set, Sánchez has said he will begin a new round of negotiations with all parliamentary groups – except for Vox and the Basque nationalist party EH Bildu – in the hopes of securing the votes he needs to be sworn in as prime minister.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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