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Pedro Sanchez sworn in as new Spanish PM

June 2, 2018

Socialist Pedro Sanchez has been sworn in as Spanish premier after his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, lost a no-confidence vote. This comes as the unruly region of Catalonia gets a new government under a separatist leader.

Pedro Sanchez being sworn in
Image: Reuters/E. Naranja

Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez was sworn in as prime minister on Saturday, a day after conservative Mariano Rajoy was ousted in a historic no-confidence vote over a corruption scandal.

Sanchez, 46, an economist with no government experience, has vowed to fight corruption and inequality he says was exacerbated by austerity measures imposed by his predecessor.

He has also promised, however, that he will respect Madrid's commitments to the European Union to reduce the country's deficit.

Read more: Who is Pedro Sanchez, Spain's prime minister-designate?

Catalonia problems

Another of his pledges is to hold open talks with the separatist leader of northeastern Catalonia, Quim Torra, with the region set to regain its semi-autonomy after a period of direct rule from Madrid imposed after a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain.

Torra swore in his Cabinet on Saturday, a move that automatically ends the takeover by Madrid.

The new Catalan leader has said he still wants independence for his region, and also wants to hold talks with Sanchez amid what is the biggest political crisis in Spain in decades.

Read more: Catalan independence - What you need to know

Minority rule

However, Sanchez may well face an uphill struggle to get anything done in government, as his Socialist Party has only 84 seats in the 350-member parliament and will rely on the support of the far-left Podemos party as well as several regional parties.

Although these supported him in the no-confidence vote that led to his becoming prime minister, it is unclear whether they will continue to help him implement the policies he advocates.

Sanchez is the seventh head of government in Spain since its transition to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Read more: Spain's ruling PP ex-treasurer, Luis Barcenas among 29 sentenced for corruption

tj/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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