First Coalition Government in Modern Spain

20 February 2020 | Tags: , ,

In the Spanish general elections of April and November 2019, no party won enough seats to form a government and after 12 months of political deadlock, the only alternative was to form a coalition. The new government, a coalition of Pedro Sánchez’s traditional Socialist Party (PSOE) and the left-wing Unidas Podemos, was sworn in at the official opening of the Cortes by King Filipe V1 on February 3rd.

Podemos is led by Pablo Iglesias and was born from the 15M anti-austerity protests of 2011, as an alternative to Spain’s traditional two-party political system of the socialist PSOE and the conservative Popular Party. Podemos later joined forces with the United Left Party.

The PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez was successful in winning the votes to form a coalition after securing the key abstention of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), a pro-Catalan independence party. In the stalemate of Cataluña, the ERC have apparently received guarantees of future talks with the central government on resolving the current political situation in Cataluña.

Pablo Iglesias has been given the role of deputy prime minister and will look after the portfolio covering social rights. The leader of the United Left party, Alberto Garzón, has become minister for consumer affairs.

However, the tension between the two groups has already started, mainly because of the shock decision taken by Sánchez to have four direct deputies, not three as expected. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is in charge of social affairs and developing the goals of the United Nation’s 2030 agenda but the creation of this new top position, to be headed by Teresa Ribera, could weaken Iglesias’ position.

In addition, there has been great controversy in reaction to the news that Pedro Sánchez proposed Dolores Delgado as the new prosecutor general. Delgado was appointed by Sánchez as justice minister in June 2018. Delgado arrived in government as an independent – judges and prosecutors are supposed to be separate from political parties under Spanish law – but in recent months she has consolidated her political role and she has also campaigned for the PSOE.

King Felipe VI presided over the official opening of the new political term, addressing a Congress of Deputies and the coalition government. Revealing a further Spanish division 49 representatives from 5 regional parties – 3 from Catalonia, 1 from the Basque Country and 1 from Galicia refused to attend the session and instead read out a statement of their own earlier in the day titled: “We have no king.”

This situation is far from normal for a newly elected government, so it looks like another interesting year in Spanish politics, ‘watch this space’ and see what happens next.

My Lawyer in Spain

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My Lawyer in Spain

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