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Alberto Núñez Feijóo: Majority also missed in the second round



Spain will not get a right-wing government for the time being. The conservative top candidate Alberto Núñez Feijóo was unable to unite a majority in the second round of voting on Friday. In parliament, 172 MPs voted for him as head of government – and 177 against him. A simple majority would have been enough for Feijóo.

Catalan MP Eduard Pujol i Bonell caused a stir – and heated debates. He initially mistakenly voted for Feijóo and then quickly corrected himself. In the end, his vote was counted as invalid.

The result had been widely expected. Already on Wednesday, Feijóo had received in the first round of voting only the votes of the right-wing radical party Vox and two micro-parties. Neither the Basque nor Catalan regional parties, on which Feijóo depended, want to support him as long as he cooperates with Vox.

Feijóo's party, the Partido Popular, won the most votes in July's election. It forms a coalition with the right-wing radicals in many regions and municipalities. In the election in the summer, however, it was not enough nationwide as hoped for a joint government majority. Vox stands for a Spanish nationalism that defines itself in contrast to the independence aspirations of the Basques and Catalans and wants to abolish the autonomous regions of the country.

Now the way is clear for Sánchez

Due to Feijóo's failure, caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez can now try to form a majority. Before that, however, he must be formally commissioned by the king to form a government. He then has until November 27 to get a majority behind him.

Sánchez's chances are better than Feijóo's – but he too could fail in the end. Then there would be new elections in January. With his 122 parliamentary seats, Sánchez is not only dependent on the support of his previous left-wing alternative coalition partner, Basque nationalists and two Catalan separatist parties would also have to vote for him.

Everything depends on Puigdemont

Among them is Junts, the party of former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont. He had once taken the Catalan secession process to extremes and then fled to Brussels in a cinematic action, where he still lives today. There is an arrest warrant for him in Spain.

Junts and the left-wing independence supporters of the ERC are now demanding, among other things, an amnesty for the Catalans who organized the illegal independence referendum in 2017. It could also affect Puigdemont himself.

This week, the two parties also demanded that Sánchez commit to "working to create the conditions for the holding" of a new referendum. The cautious wording suggests that the separatists must offer something to their base in order to support Sánchez. The Socialists promptly rejected the demand.

More on the subject

  • Election in Spain: How Sánchez prevented the shift to the rightAn interview by Steffen Lüdke, Madrid

  • Puigdemont as a majority procurer in Spain: An exiled Catalan becomes kingmaker of MadridBy José Bautista and Steffen Lüdke, Madrid

Nevertheless, Sánchez has been confident of victory for weeks – and is preparing the Spanish public for an amnesty law. But even in his own party, there are voices that want to prevent this. Older politicians in particular, such as former Prime Minister Felipe González, who is not exactly a fan of Sánchez anyway, are opposed to an amnesty.

The conservative Feijóo, on the other hand, had realized early on that his government formation was doomed to failure – and shifted to stirring up sentiment against Sánchez's plans. Even in his candidacy speech in parliament, he spoke at length about a possible amnesty for the Catalans. This is "neither legally nor ethically acceptable".