MADRID – King Felipe VI of Spain has instructed the conservative opposition leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, to form a Spanish government. This directive places the Partido Popular (PP) leader in a complex position, given the current balance of parliamentary support.
Following two days of discussions with party chiefs, King Felipe VI conveyed his decision, according to the president of the Spanish House of Commons, Francina Armengol. Feijóo is now set to face a parliamentary vote, the precise date of which remains undecided. At the earliest, it is slated for sometime next week.
However, to secure his position as the new government head, Feijóo requires an absolute majority in the initial round of parliamentary voting. This means he needs a minimum of 176 votes from the total 350 MPs. A subsequent round would only require a simple majority.
Feijóo’s conservative People’s Party (PP) notably triumphed in the parliamentary elections on July 23, securing 137 seats. However, this was below the anticipated results. Sitting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, representing the socialist PSOE, came in second. The emerging left-wing alliance, Sumar—a new collaborator of the PSOE—garnered fourth place with 31 seats. Meanwhile, the right-wing populist party, Vox, took a hit with 33 seats, marking a decline for them.
The Vox party emerges as a feasible coalition ally for Feijóo and the PP. Notably, Feijóo had contemplated an alliance with them before the elections. Yet, aligning with Vox carries its challenges, as most parties are opposed to collaborating with them. Consequently, even a PP-Vox coalition wouldn’t secure a majority, necessitating support, or at the very least, leniency, from minor factions.
The PNV is the sole party potentially capable of offering the support needed for an absolute majority. However, they’ve reiterated their reluctance to back the PP.
Sánchez’s path forward
Should Feijóo’s attempt falter in the House of Commons, it’s anticipated that Pedro Sánchez will step up to seek the confidence of the MPs. Yet, the challenges are manifold for the current PM. Alongside acquiring votes from the Sumar alliance and various regional parties, Sánchez must also negotiate with Junts, helmed by the exiled Catalan separatist leader, Carles Puigdemont. Junts has been vocal about their demand for an independence referendum—a proposal likely to be rebuffed by Sánchez.
Receiving support from the Coalición Canaria could spare the left-leaning coalition from courting Catalan nationalists. Nonetheless, strings are attached.
Avoiding repeat elections
The spectre of another electoral round looms large if neither contender manages to form a government—a scenario progressive entities are keen to sidestep. Both the PSOE and Sumar are actively courting various nationalist and secessionist parties.
Furthermore, the PSOE, spearheaded by Pedro Sánchez, and the Sumar coalition, under Yolanda Díaz, are pessimistic about Feijóo’s chances. Moreover, if he fails, this would mark his third unsuccessful bid as the PP leader.