Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez expected to win backing for new term – Europe live | Spain

Key events

The European parliament will debate the state of the rule of law in Spain, Spain’s Citizens party said today.


Gracias al impulso de @CS_Europa y @RenewEurope, el Pleno del Parlamento Europeo debatirá la situación del Estado de derecho en España.

La ley de amnistía de Sánchez vulnera la separación de poderes y la igualdad ante la ley.

Seguiremos denunciándolo en Europa.

— Ciudadanos 🇪🇸🇪🇺 (@CiudadanosCs) November 16, 2023

Sam Jones

El Heraldo de Aragón is reporting that Herminio Sancho, the PSOE MP for Teruel, had an egg thrown at him by a protester while he and some colleagues were having breakfast in a bar near congress before the debate.

The politicians were then escorted to congress by police officers.

The proposed amnesty has also led to violent skirmishes outside the PP’s Madrid offices as police clashed with fascists and neo-fascists.

Sam Jones

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the populist PP leader of the Madrid region, has just addressed her decision to call Pedro Sánchez a “hijo de puta” (son of a bitch, if we’re being polite) after he mentioned her name in relation to an alleged corruption scandal during yesterday’s debate.

Here’s what happened yesterday:

The language in congress became blunter still after Sánchez reminded Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the PP leader, of an alleged corruption scandal involving a relative of the populist PP president of the Madrid region, Isabel Díaz Ayuso.

Ayuso, who was sitting in the chamber’s gallery, was caught on camera responding to Sánchez’s jibe by calling him a “hijo de puta”.

Ayuso’s team initially told El País that she had pronounced the similar-sounding phrase “me gusta la fruta” (I like fruit), before admitting that she had indeed called him a hijo de puta.

They added: “The president’s reply to a baseless corruption allegation was the very least it deserved.”

Ayuso has recently accused Sánchez of enacting a “totalitarian” project and ushering in “a dictatorship through the back door”.

And here’s what Ayuso has just said to her opponents in the Madrid regional parliament:

The prime minister, in full abuse of power, used the podium in the house of national sovereignty, which is ever more diminished, to slander a regional president – me – and my family. Maybe you lot, who’ll take anything that’s thrown at you, would have done something else. But not me. Yes, I said it. I said ‘Me gusta la fruta’.

Remarks such as these tend to further endear Ayuso to her followers, even if they often eclipse the more sober pronouncements of her boss, Feijóo.

Sam Jones

The leader of Podemos, which teamed up with the PSOE to form the last government but which has been overshadowed by the emergence of the leftwing Sumar alliance, has warned Pedro Sánchez not to leave her party out of his forthcoming government.

Speaking outside congress, Ione Belarra said it would be “an enormous political mistake” for Sánchez not to give Podemos a ministry and called on him to do so while there was still time.

If Pedro Sánchez and Yolanda Díaz (the Sumar leader and acting deputy PM) maintain this veto on Podemos being in the next government, as it seems is going to happen, I think the possibilities of bringing in real change in this country will be seriously compromised – and that seems to us to be an enormous political mistake.

Podemos, which has slumped in the polls since emerging a few years ago to radically challenge Spain’s political status quo, has a complicated relationship with Sumar. More on that here.

The PP’s Esteban González Pons argued today that Pedro Sánchez was dividing Spain and was “blinded by his own ambition.”

Sam Jones

Vox’s 33 MPs are not in the chamber at the moment because Bildu’s spokesperson was making her speech, but they’ll be back to vote.

Here’s what the party’s leader, Santiago Abascal, had to say to Pedro Sánchez yesterday before Vox left congress to join protests against the amnesty:

Your lies and your sinister laugh today will have reminded voters of Nero while Rome burned. Your lack of morality, the sense that you’ve lost your mind with this attack on the constitution, suggest … that this has gone from being an illegitimate government to being an illegal government. We’re facing a coup against the constitution and against the nation. You can spin your lies to whoever wants to hear them. We will be at the side of the Spanish people who are fighting against your coup. But have no doubt that we will be here tomorrow to vote against you and your plans.

Santiago Abascal at a protest near the PSOE headquarters in Madrid on Wednesday. Photograph: Borja Sanchez-Trillo/EPA

Sam Jones

The conservative People’s party (PP) is continuing its criticism of Pedro Sánchez inside and outside congress, hammering him for his deals with Junts and the ERC.

This is what the PP’s secretary general, Cuca Gamarra, just told the COPE radio station:

The problem our country has is called Pedro Sánchez. Pedro Sánchez is the problem because we’re talking about a politician who is capable of doing anything in his own interest and in order to remain in government in Spain. To get the seven votes he needed after losing the (general) election, he’s gone as far as signing and saying he’s going to deliver an impunity law in return for his investiture. There’s no doubt whatsoever that the danger Spain and our coexistence is facing is called Pedro Sánchez. That’s what we’re talking about.

The attack line is hardly new, but it is one we’ll continue to hear for a long time. Why?

For the simple reason that Sánchez opposed the amnesty until it became clear that issuing one was the only way to secure another term. It’s simple and effective – and very hard for the PSOE to deny.

Sam Jones

The conservative People’s party (PP) leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, underscored Sánchez’s reliance on Junts as he arrived in congress this morning.

The investiture isn’t happening today or yesterday – it’s already a done deal that was agreed outside Spain, in Waterloo.

Waterloo is where the Junts leader, Carles Puigdemont, has lived since fleeing Spain to avoid arrest for his role in orchestrating the 2017 referendum.

Alberto Núñez Feijóo arrives at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid.
Alberto Núñez Feijóo arrives at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid. Photograph: Rodrigo Jimenez/EPA

Sam Jones

Pedro Sánchez has thanked Bildu for its support – something else that won’t go down well with the PP and Vox.

Sam Jones

Speaking in the investiture debate, Mertxe Aizpurua, an MP for the leftwing Basque nationalist party EH Bildu, called on Pedro Sánchez to govern to help working-class people.

You need to govern and think in the interests of the majority of working people and not in those of the big companies, banks and multinationals.

Aizpurua attacked the PP for its fierce opposition to the Catalan amnesty, pointing out that post-Franco Spain was born from the 1977 amnesty that aimed to leave the crimes of the dictatorship era in the past.

You rejected an amnesty for people who didn’t commit any crime, yet you revere the 1977 amnesty that gave total impunity for the crimes of Francoism and those who committed them.

Vox, which loathes Bildu for its links with the former political wing of the Basque terror group Eta, is not in the chamber this morning.

Mertxe Aizpurua speaks during the investiture debate
Mertxe Aizpurua speaks during the investiture debate. Photograph: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/EPA

Spain’s investiture debate continues this morning, ahead of a vote today.

Mertxe Aizpurua
Mertxe Aizpurua, a member of the pro-Basque independence EH Bildu party, speaks during the investiture debate. Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters
Pedro Sánchez and Nadia Calviño
Pedro Sánchez and the acting first deputy prime minister, Nadia Calviño, listen to Aizpurua’s speech. Photograph: Juan Carlos Hidalgo/EPA

Junts will vote for Sánchez, spokesperson confirms

Sam Jones

Despite her plainly worded warning yesterday, Junts’s spokesperson, Miriam Nogueras, has confirmed that her party will vote for Sánchez today.

She told the Catalan radio stations RAC1: “We respect the agreements we reach. Months ago we started negotiations that continue today, and Sánchez’s investiture is only one of the points of the agreement we have signed.”

Miriam Nogueras speaking in parliament on Wednesday
Miriam Nogueras speaking in parliament on Wednesday. Photograph: Kiko Huesca/EPA

It’s a big day for Pedro Sánchez. Here’s a photo of the socialist politician arriving for today’s session and vote.

Pedro Sánchez arrives for the investiture debate and vote at the Spanish parliament in Madrid.
Pedro Sánchez arrives for the investiture debate and vote at the Spanish parliament in Madrid. Photograph: Manu Fernández/AP

Don’t tempt fate, Junts tells Sánchez

Sam Jones

Yesterday’s debate was every bit as tense, angry and bitter as one would expect given the issues at stake and the four months of tension and frantic negotiation that have followed July’s inconclusive general election.

But beyond the showdown between the PSOE and its partners and the PP and Vox, there were also signs of just how fraught the coming legislature is likely to be.

Pedro Sánchez’s assertion that “a united Spain is a better Spain” did not go down with his new backers in Carles Puigdemont’s hardline separatist Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia) party.

Its spokesperson, Miriam Nogueras, warned Sánchez that her party’s support for his minority coalition government remained conditional.

“If we are here today it is to make things really change,” she said. “But if there is no progress, we will not approve any initiative presented by your government. It is linked to progress and compliance with agreements.”

Lest the message wasn’t clear enough, she told him “not to tempt fate”.

Junts was always bound to want to demonstrate its independence to MPs and the world – despite its deal with Sánchez – but her words will not be reassuring as the PSOE leader prepares for a new term.

Pedro Sánchez defends Catalan amnesty law as ‘demonstration of strength’

Sam Jones

Spain’s acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has defended the controversial Catalan amnesty law that is set to deliver his socialist party a second term, saying the act of clemency towards hundreds of people involved in the push for regional independence is needed to promote “dialogue, understanding and forgiveness”.

Sánchez and his partners in the leftwing Sumar alliance have agreed to the amnesty in order to secure the key votes of the ERC and Junts, provoking a furious backlash from the conservative People’s party (PP) and Vox, who have accused Sánchez of caving into the separatists, hypocrisy and putting self-preservation before the national interest. The PP has called on the EU to weigh in on the proposed law, while Vox has suggested the acting prime minister is perpetrating “a coup d’état in capital letters”.

Speaking in congress yesterday as MPs held an investiture debate that will be followed by a vote today that he already has the numbers to win, Sánchez said the amnesty would help the country turn the page on the past.

“In the name of Spain and its interests and in the defence of coexistence between Spaniards, we’re going to grant an amnesty to those people who are facing legal action over the (Catalan independence) process,” he said.

“This amnesty will benefit many people, political leaders whose ideas I do not share and whose actions I reject, but also hundreds of citizens who were swept up in the process.”

Read the full story here.

Pedro Sánchez during the investiture debate in the Spanish parliament on Wednesday.
Pedro Sánchez during the investiture debate in the Spanish parliament on Wednesday. Photograph: Isabel Infantes/Getty Images

Welcome to the blog

Good morning and welcome back to the Europe blog.

Today we will be focusing on Spain, where the acting prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is expected to win congressional backing for a new term in a vote today.

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