Alberto Nunez Feijoo, leader of the People’s Party, speaks during a protest rally in Madrid, Spain on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023.
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Spain’s right-wing opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo on Wednesday failed to gain the absolute majority of parliamentary votes needed to become prime minister.
Feijóo received 172 votes in favor of his mandate in the Wednesday session — four short of the absolute 176 majority needed from the 350-strong parliament. The remaining 178 parliament members voted against him, with no abstentions.
Despite his electoral win over the summer and support from hard-right party Vox, Feijóo’s Popular Party has so far failed to stitch together the critical support.
Feijóo — who was given first shot at forming a government by Spanish King Felipe VI in August — has another chance on Friday, when he needs only to secure a simple majority. Should he fail, Pedro Sanchez, acting prime minister and Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party leader, has two months to undergo a similar two-vote process in a bid for investiture, before parliament dissolves on Nov. 27 and elections are called on Jan. 14. Fresh polls are not so unlikely — Spain had to hold two elections in both 2015-16 and in 2019 before a candidate obtained power.
Feijóo’s uphill battle for support has proven arduous, amid mainstream criticism over allied Vox’s views, such as opposing abortion rights and denying climate change.
The Popular Party gained a boon of support in recent days, as at least 40,000 people took to the streets to protest Sanchez’s possible plans to extend amnesty to Catalan separatists, according to Reuters.
A potential pardon could bring on the side the support of self-exiled former Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont’s Junts per Catalunya. Pursued in Spain after his failed secession attempt six years prior, Puigdemont on Sept. 5 called to “eliminate every judiciary action against the independence of Catalonia,” according to an official translation.
On Monday, Raquel Sans, spokesperson for the Republican Left of Catalonia, urged Sanchez to “address the substance of the political conflict” between Madrid and Catalonia, if he wants to win power, noting “we already agreed on the amnesty,” according to a Google translation.