Pedro Sanchez forms functioning government in Spain

After days of tense debate and protests, Spain’s parliament on Thursday re-elected Pedro Sanchez as prime minister, allowing him to form a functioning government.

The Socialist politician will head a progressive coalition government alongside the leftist Sumar party, a partnership that has led Spain since January 2020.

Of the 350 members of Spain’s parliament, 179 voted for Sanchez’s government, and 171 voted against it.

Without a majority, the left-wing coalition had to court the votes of regionalist parties from across Spain. The government was supported by six other parties in Spain’s fractured parliament — ERC and Junts from Catalonia; PNV and EH Bilu from the Basque Country; BNG from Galicia; and Coalicion Canaria from the Canary Islands.

One of the most controversial concessions to the regionalist parties was the deal struck with Catalan separatists to offer amnesty to those involved in the Catalan independence movement. The amnesty law is set to be passed by lawmakers in the coming months, though the opposition will challenge it in court.

The amnesty deal has provoked rage across Spain. The country’s streets have witnessed hundreds of thousands of protestors march against the deal, while nightly protests that attract far-right activists have turned violent.

Before Thursday’s votes, protestors gathered around the parliament in protest, some hurling eggs at Socialist politicians.

During a speech in parliament earlier Thursday, Socialist spokesperson Patxi Lopez warned Spain’s conservative Popular Party of the dangers of riling up the population with hyperbole and language that accuses Sanchez of destroying democracy.

“If you keep feeding the beast, it will end up devouring you … maybe you think they’re attacking the Socialists, but they’re attacking democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Spain’s far-right party Vox has called for “permanent mobilizations” against the “illegal government,” which it says is destroying Spanish unity and eroding the rule of law.

The Popular Party is also supporting what could be another massive protest on Saturday against amnesty.

On Wednesday, Sanchez promised several measures for his upcoming administration including recognizing a Palestinian state, prolonging tax cuts on food products, making public transport free for youth and the unemployed, and maintaining the wealth tax.

Spanish voters went to the polls in late July and the country had been more than 115 days without a functioning government.

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