The interim prime minister and leader of the Socialist party (PSOE), Pedro Sánchez (L) and the president of the PNV, Andoni Ortuzar, sign an agreement in Madrid, 10 November 2023. EFE/ Fernando Villar

Spain’s Socialists close deals with regional parties to secure Sanchez-led gov’t

Madrid, Nov 10 (EFE).- Spain’s Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) on Friday finalized its remaining agreements with regional parties that mean that interim prime minister Pedro Sanchez has enough support to form a coalition government.

After PSOE struck deals earlier this week with the pro-independence Catalan groups Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) and Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), the Socialists formally secured the backing of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Canary Coalition (CC), giving Sanchez 179 of 350 parliamentary votes – enough for an absolute majority.

Junts leader Carles Puigdemont, who has lived in exile in Belgium since he and hundreds of other politicians and activists were charged for their roles in an unsanctioned 2017 independence referendum, had refused to back Sanchez in government unless the charges were lifted.

The acting Minister of Finance and Socialist Deputy Secretary General, María Jesús Montero, signs with the Secretary of Organization of the Canarian Coalition, David Toledo, the government’s pact with the party to achieve the investiture for a second term for Pedro Sánchez, in Madrid, Spain, 10 November 2023. EFE/ Fernando Villar

Sanchez is due to be confirmed for another four-year term in a debate in parliament, which is expected next week.

The agreements with the Catalan groups – which are underpinned by a highly controversial amnesty law that will grant pardons to those charged following the referendum – have sparked intense anger in Spain, particularly from the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox.

PP leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has called for nationwide protests on Nov. 12 against the amnesty, while the head of the far-right Vox, Santiago Abascal, said the party would file a complaint to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the law is “flagrantly unconstitutional”.

The amnesty agreed by the PSOE with the Catalan pro-independence parties triggered an immediate reaction from the judiciary, with Spain’s governing body of judges describing the pardons as “an attack on the rule of law and the separation of powers and judicial independence” in a letter to European Union authorities.

The letter, which Efe has viewed, explains that “in order to obtain his support to be appointed prime minister of Spain” Sánchez “has agreed to grant impunity to a fugitive from justice”, in reference to Puigdemont.

Spain’s business sector has also voiced its concerns, with Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) vice president Lorenzo Amor saying Friday that the deal between PSOE and Junts goes against the rule of law and could lead to legal uncertainty for companies.

The CEOE is expected to review the agreements at a general assembly next week.

The PSOE headquarters in Palencia painted with the word “Traitors” as a protest to the agreement reached by the PSOE with the Catalan independentists of Junts, in Palencia, Spain, 10 November 2023. EFE/ A. Alvarez

Anger at the amnesty law has also been intensely felt in towns and cities across Spain.

Violent clashes between protesters and police broke out at PSOE headquarters and offices when news of the deal with Junts emerged this week.

King Felipe VI appointed Sánchez to form a government last month, after Feijóo – whose PP had narrowly beaten PSOE in a July snap election – had failed in his attempts to garner enough support for a parliamentary majority. EFE