Sánchez passes the investiture by far and faces the even more difficult one

Resilient, survivor, au fénix.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
16 November 2023 Thursday 22:00
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Sánchez passes the investiture by far and faces the even more difficult one

Resilient, survivor, au fénix... let everyone refer to it as they see fit, but there is unanimity in Spanish politics about the proven resistance of Pedro Sánchez. The congressional scoreboard offered 179 to 171, a larger majority than in the previous inauguration, despite the noise, anti-manifestos, peaceful protests and intimidation. Sánchez becomes one of the veteran presidents in Europe (and the few progressives) who has survived the pandemic, the far right and inflation. A president who also incites visceral hatred and who faces a legislature marked by two vectors: that of risky pacts with independence (with the amnesty law as a toll) and what is already emerging to his left, with Podemos as "independent" actor with whom he will have to negotiate apart from Sumar if he wants the support of his five deputies. And every vote counts.

Five months ago, no one was betting on his continuity. The municipal and regional elections in May heralded the change of cycle. The PP came out of that meeting very strengthened and Alberto Núñez Feijóo saw the perfect springboard towards Moncloa. That's what Sánchez also feared, who bet strongly on a sudden advance in the middle of summer. The victory of the right seemed so obvious, that the socialist leader himself placed his collaborators on the lists to guarantee their continuity as deputies in the event of losing the government. But boldness and perseverance have always given him results and on the night of 23-J he already made the decision to try the pact with Junts. What's more, he had for a long time felt that the ballot boxes could give an arithmetic that depended on the party of Carles Puigdemont and he had shared opinions with one of his faithful if, in that circumstance, it would be viable and convenient to propose an amnesty. The journey to tying the votes of Junts has been more complicated than expected, but the negotiation has borne fruit.

Sánchez ended yesterday's investiture plenum by thanking his party for the blind trust in him during these months of opaque negotiations, while the opposition accused him of an avalanche of immoralities, including adulterating the State of right Aware of the pressure on the Socialists due to the unpopularity of the amnesty, he greeted each and every one of his deputies once invested. Right after Feijóo approached to congratulate him with sportsmanship. The gesture seemed to ease the verbal tension of the previous day, but the comment that accompanied the tackle did not portend an appeasement: "This is a mistake and you will be responsible for it." The PP will not relax or lower the decibels of criticism of a president whose legitimacy Feijóo admitted, but who he has accused of selling the country for Moncloa.

The legislature starts with a hemicycle (and probably a society) divided into two halves by the territorial issue. The amalgamation of parties that support Sánchez share only one motivation: to stop the PP while this formation does not mark distances with Vox. The discourse on the breakup of Spain is seen by most of the PSOE's allies as a threat from rampant Spanish nationalism to its aspirations for self-government. It is the reason why the PNB agrees to live together in the same bloc next to Podemos, ERC or Bildu. Aitor Esteban criticized the popular people for their rejection of the amnesty and for being scandalized by it to the point of "wanting to impose on the streets what has not been won at the polls".

But the investiture block is now more complex to manage and Sánchez will have to administer it with enormous and subtle dedication. Not only because of the rivalry between Basque nationalists or between Catalan independenceists, but because of the Cainite clash that is happening on their left, of which sparks already started flying yesterday. Irene Montero tweeted: "Having Sánchez and Díaz remove Podemos from the government will make it extremely difficult to move from words to deeds." The five Lilea deputies will not attend to Sumar's discipline if, as it seems, they do not have a ministry. It is the signal to launch Pablo Iglesias' plan and for Podemos to act independently of the new government, negotiating each law with the PSOE. "The best is yet to come", proclaimed Montero and Ione Belarra yesterday.

This means that Sánchez's will have to treat Podemos as if it were their own group, although the purples will not leave Sumar's unless Yolanda Díaz decides to throw them out. Its aim will be to set the social agenda. Every time the leader of Sumar agrees on some point of her program with the PSOE, Podemos can demand to go further and accuse her of docility to Sánchez. In this task they will not be alone, but they intend to build a kind of tacit alliance that pulls to the left with ERC, Bildu and the BNG, with a weight of 19 deputies. In the same way, on the centre-right flank, the PNB will also try to coordinate its position with that of Junts (they add 12 deputies) to stop some of the proposals promoted by Sumar within the government.

All of this will force Sánchez and his ministers to use their negotiating skills to the extreme, which they will have to combine with talents for the dialectical clash with a very tough opposition. The composition of the new government, which is expected to take office on Monday, will have to respond to these premises. The difficulty of survival in the new scenario is obvious, but in the president's environment they remember that so far nothing has been exactly easy for them.