Spain’s right-wing party loses chance to form government, setting up socialist Sanchez for fresh bid

People’s Party leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo delivers a speech at the Congress of Deputies during a second parliamentary vote to elect Spain’s next premier on Sept. 29, 2023.

Javier Soriano | Afp | Getty Images

Spain’s right-wing opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo failed in his second bid to become prime minister, setting the stage for a fresh attempt at office from acting leader Pedro Sanchez.

Feijóo, who leads the People’s Party, received 172 parliamentary votes in favor of his investiture, with 177 against. He would have needed to win a simple majority of supporting votes during the Friday session.

He faced and failed a harder task of clinching an absolute 176-vote majority from the 350-strong parliament during a first vote on Wednesday, when he fell four votes short of that threshold.

Pedro Sanchez, acting prime minister and Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) leader, now has two months and two similar attempts to gain support, before parliament dissolves on Nov. 27 and elections are called for January.

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Feijóo’s party won a snap poll in July, but was widely expected to fail to achieve power this week. It struggled to rally support amid criticism over its alliance with the hard-right Vox party, whose views include opposing abortion rights and denying climate change.

“If the PSOE want to go ahead with this moral and political degradation, it will be its exclusive responsibility. I will not be president at the cost of the dignity of my country and of the equality of all Spaniards,” Feijóo said Friday on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, according to a CNBC translation.

Sanchez himself must tread a very fine line in his potential outreach to self-exiled former Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya. Sought in Spain after his failed secession attempt six years prior, Puigdemont asked on Sept. 5 to “eliminate every judiciary action against the independence of Catalonia,” according to an official translation.

But Sanchez’ possible plans to extend amnesty to Catalan separatists drew at least 40,000 to demonstrate in protest.

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