Spain′s Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez brings vote to oust premier Mariano Rajoy | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 01.06.2018
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Spain's Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez brings vote to oust premier Mariano Rajoy

Academic and Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) leader, Pedro Sanchez, has called on the Spanish prime minister to resign — and offered to take his place. Sanchez tabled the motion of no-confidence in Rajoy.

Pedro Sanchez presented the motion of no-confidence in Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the ruling Popular Party (PP).

By Thursday, Sanchez had rallied the support of six parties and 180 votes — four more than the 176 he needs to pass a no-confidence vote on Friday. The PSOE itself holds only 84 seats.  If successful, it would be the first successful no-confidence vote in Spain's democratic history.

Last week the National Court sentenced 29 businesspeople and PP officials to pay a combined total of 351 years in jail for fraud, tax evasion and money laundering among other crimes. They found the PP benefited from illegally obtained funds and fined it €245,000 ($290,000).

Sanchez called on Rajoy to step down: "Resign," he told the prime minister in parliament on Thursday "and it will all be over."

Rajoy was defiant. "Why should I have to resign, if for now I still have the trust of the house, and the trust awarded to me at the ballot boxes? You're the one who should be resigning around here," Rajoy replied to Sanchez.

Mariano Rajoy during the no-confidence debate

Mariano Rajoy during the no-confidence debate

The prime minister of Spain

Rajoy did not attend the second half of the debate on the censure motion on Thursday and his office at La Moncloa palace repeated that he would not be stepping down.

As part of the motion, Sanchez presented himself as candidate for replacement prime minister, heading a pro-European cabinet guaranteeing macroeconomic and budget stability. He promised to respect the PP budget for this year which was passed with support from the business-friendly Ciudadanos (Citizens) and the Basque nationalist lawmakers in the PNV.

In opinion polls, the PSOE is only showing third - after Albert Rivera's Ciudadanos and Rajoy's PP.

Who is Pedro Sanchez?

The Madrid-born Secretary General of the 140-year old PSOE party is a former economics professor.

In May 2017, Sanchez regained the PSOE leadership just seven months after being ousted in a coup when he refused to allow Rajoy's PP to form a government. He said the PP was too corrupt to run the country.

Splits within the PSOE during his first tenure as party leader from 2014 to October 2016 had centered on Sanchez's efforts to make alliances with the new parties on both sides of the political divide — Podemos (We can) on the left and the center-right Ciudadanos.

Pedro Sanchez addressing parliament

PSOE leader Pedro Sanchez addressing parliament

Policies for PSOE - Sanchez promoted political regeneration and constitutional reform to establish federalism, which would ensure Catalonia would stay within Spain. A new fiscal policy and the extension of welfare rights are also part of his agenda within the PSOE.

Academic and politician - The 46-year-old leader of the second-biggest party after Rajoy's conservatives first joined the PSOE in 1993, worked as a political adviser in the European Parliament and at the UN during the Kosovo war. He became a councillor on the Madrid City Council in 2004, then a member of the Spanish Congress of Deputies for Madrid in 2009. Voted out in 2011, he finished his economics doctorate before returning to Congress in 2013. 

On Catalonia - Sanchez appeared with Rajoy on television in May confirming the state's right to intervene, again, should new regional President Quim Torra violate the constitution. However, Sanchez also promised to promote a dialogue between Madrid and the Catalan government, while respecting the constitution.

On Twitter on May 18, he labeled the new Catalan leader as the "Le Pen of Spanish politics," referring to the far-right French leader.

jm/rc (EFE, Reuters)

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