(CNN Spanish) — Spain has been plunged into political chaos amid a deal seeking to invest the government’s new president, which has sparked protests in several of the country’s cities, mainly in the capital Madrid.
After intense negotiations, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) this week reached an agreement with the Junds per Catalunya that will help invest Pedro Sánchez as head of government. In exchange for Junt per Catalonia’s support, the Socialists agreed to introduce a controversial amnesty law for Catalan independence supporters prosecuted for taking part in a failed bid to make Catalonia independent from the rest of Spain, according to a bipartisan deal obtained by CNN. .
In recent days, demonstrations against the amnesty law have brought together thousands of people across Spain. Demonstrations intensified in Madrid this Thursday: CNN reporter Pau Mosquera was in the city center, witnessing explosions and bottles thrown during a protest called at 8:00 pm local time (2:00 pm Miami time) and two hours later, which drew nearly 8,000 people. Collected.
The amnesty is a key element for Sánchez in his bid to be re-elected president of the Spanish government, as Junds per Catalunya (JX Cat) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) – the pro-independence parties – have publicly sought the endorsement. Law called for him to be supported in the investiture vote.
Without the votes of JxCat and the ERC, and the votes of the other allies, the PSOE will not have enough support to win the 176 seats that Sánchez needs to become president at the first attempt.
In addition, Sánchez has yet to formalize support for the 5 seats of the Basque Nationalist Party in northern Spain, which supported his government with votes in the last parliament, a Socialist party source told CNN.
According to the President of the Spanish Parliament, Francisca Armengol, this first attempt at investment must happen before November 27. If this does not happen, a new general election will be held. The PSOE is seeking to file an amnesty law as soon as possible to hold an investment debate before the deadline.
If the first impeachment attempt does not receive enough support, 48 hours later, a second attempt is made in Parliament, where 176 votes in favor are not required, but only a simple majority (more votes in favor than in favor, according to congressional rules).
It is in this context that amnesty is key to Sánchez’s investment, but the socialist proposal has sparked discontent among Spain’s right. We give you the most important points of how we got here.
What happened in Spain with the investment of the new president of the government?
May 2023 – Parliament dissolved
After regional and municipal elections on Sunday, May 28, in which the People’s Party (PP) was the dominant force, the Spanish government’s president, Socialist Pedro Sánchez, announced the dissolution of parliament and called a general election for May 23. July, five months before the normal deadline.
In Spain, the presidency of the government is renewed every time general elections are held. Although Spain’s constitution stipulates that this should happen every four years, the current president of the government, the Cortes, has the prerogative to dissolve the Generals (parliament) early and call for new elections.
July 2023 – Uncertain victory for PP
In the general election on Sunday, July 23, the Popular Party, led by Alberto Núñez Feijo, won the race. The right-wing party won 136 seats out of a total of 350 members of the Congress. Its ally, the far-right Vox, won 33 seats.
However, despite the right-wing victory, these results were not enough to govern in Spain, as 176 votes in favor were needed in the disinvestment debate in Congress.
This translated into an obstacle for the PP and allies to form a government, and represented an opportunity for the PSOE to retain a later government for Pedro Sánchez.
September 2023 – Núñez Feijóo’s efforts fail
The process of electing a new president of Spain’s government begins with the formation of the new parliament, which took place after the general elections in July, which the PP won.
Specifically, the process is initiated by the king with a round of consultation with representatives appointed by political groups with parliamentary representation. After these meetings, the King of Spain announces his proposed candidate for the presidency of Congress to try to form a government.
From there, as established by the rules of the Congress of Representatives, the President of the Chamber sets the dates for convening a plenary session to discuss the investment.
In the specific case of this Fifteenth Legislature, Núñez Feijóo, president of the PP, was the candidate who tried to gather the confidence of the chamber in the investiture debate held on Tuesday, September 26 and Wednesday, September 27.
In that first impeachment attempt, Feijo did not receive the necessary 176 votes in favor of congressional representatives, so, according to its terms, the candidate was given a second chance two days later.
On September 29, this second attempt was made, requiring a simple majority for the PP leader to become president. However, this too did not pass and the final vote was 172 in favor and 177 against.
October 2023 – King’s request to Pedro Sanchez
After the failed attempt to impeach Núñez Feijóo, the acting head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, said on Tuesday, October 3, that he would seek a left-wing majority to form a government, accepting the Spanish king’s request. In Parliament.
With this new request from the king, Pedro Sánchez was once again given the opportunity to form a government for four years.
However, because of the July election results, the PSOE needs the votes of the Sumer and Basque and Catalan nationalist parties, a coalition of several parties on Spain’s left.
This is where we return to the amnesty phase, because, as we explained at the beginning, Catalan parties JxCat and ERC have publicly apologized to Sánchez for the leaders of Catalonia’s failed independence bid in 2017; Otherwise, they will not add support to form the government.
November 2023 – Amnesty Agreement
After two weeks of intense negotiations, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and the Junds per Catalunya have reached an agreement to invest Pedro Sánchez as president of the Spanish government.
The deal includes an amnesty law benefiting politicians and other citizens convicted or prosecuted for promoting an unspecified 2014 referendum on Catalonia’s future or the October 2017 independence referendum. The organization will not only support the investiture of the Socialist leader, but also the four years that a legislature lasts, according to the PSOE organizational secretary from Brussels.
Although this is the most difficult negotiation the PSOE has had to achieve Sánchez’s investment, all is not yet closed for parliament to hold a debate in which the government’s still acting president could reconsider his position.
“The amnesty law must be signed by the parties who want to support it,” clarified Certan, adding that the Esquirea Republicana de Catalunya, which has already concluded an agreement, must also confirm the substance of the agreement.
That said, they still have to conclude negotiations with the Basque Nationalist Party, the last party they have pledged to support Sanchez’s investment.
As of this Friday, no date has been set for Congress of Representatives to hold Pedro Sánchez’s impeachment debate. This should be held as soon as possible, as the Generals of Cortes will be dissolved on November 27 and new general elections will be held.
Editor’s note: This text was revised and updated on November 10, 2023 with the latest improvements.
— With reporting by CNN’s Pau Mosquera, Al Goodman, Claudia Rebaza and Jack Guy.