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Sanchez, Spain's surprise new PM

Spain's stubborn socialist's remarkable political career dares one to think that Sanchez has a chance, and the ability to pull off a political miracle

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Image: Marta Jara

Pedro Sanchez became the seventh Prime Minister of Spain since it returned to democracy on 2nd  June following a dramatic vote of no confidence in Mariano Rajoy. The vote of no confidence was passed by 180 votes to 169 with a single abstention, after yet another revelation of corruption rocked Rajoy's People's Party (PP) causing widespread anger and prompting calls for his resignation. In an impressive feat Mr Sanchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (£OE) managed to get seven other parties to vote in line with his own, ousting Mr Rajoy with a slim majority of just four votes.

Despite becoming Spain's new Prime Minister, the 46 year old will have little time to celebrate. His party holds only 84 of the 350 seats in the congress, meaning getting any substantial reforms passed will be an uphill struggle. Furthermore Mr Sanchez's minority government will have to listen to what the other parties who voted with the £OE have to say. He has already agreed not to change the budget set by the PP in exchange for the Basque PNV 's support in his vote of no confidence. On the same day that Sanchez was sworn in, Spain's largest single crisis was once again stirring as Catalonia's newly elected leader Quim Torra demanded crunch talks with the Prime Minister, reaffirming his commitment to Catalonia becoming an independent Republic, something Mr Sanchez has already ruled out.

While Mr Sanchez could remain in power until 2020 he will surely face pressures to call an election before then and prove that the  £OE can win through the ballot box. While Pedro Sanchez faces rough seas ahead, Spain's stubborn socialist's remarkable political career dares one to think that Sanchez has a chance, and the ability to pull off a political miracle by ensuring that his minority governMENT doesn't collapse. Less than two years ago Pedro Sanchez was him-self forced to resign after a party revolt in 2016, over his refusal after two inconclusive election results to allow Rajoy to form a new government. Mr Sanchez spent the time touring Spain trying to win his party's grassroots support and to the horror of the socialist politicians who ousted him he won the party's leadership race less than seven months later with over 50 per cent of the vote. The challenge will now be whether Mr Sanchez can lead his party out of the poorest election results in its history which it achieved under his time as leader. However, given his remarkable political comeback from ex-£OE leader to the Prime Minister of Spain and new leader of the £OE, one should be careful before making any assumptions.

What makes this turn of events all the more astonishing is that similar events took place in Portugal less than three years ago, when the left-wing parties grouped together to oust the Portugal Aheah coalition, replacing them with Antonio Costa, leader of the Socialist Party. Indeed if Mr Sanchez takes a leaf out of his neighbouring socialist's book he would fare well. Mr Costa has ensured fiscal responsibility while overturning the majority of the austerity reforms passed by his predecessor, his party currently enjoys higher polling than in the last election and Mr Costa has survived a vote of no confidence, retaining the support of the two parties propping up his minority government. Mr Costa shows his neighbours new leader that there can be a successful alternative to the austerity seen across the EU which can lead to economic growth and as Spain needs a decline in unemployment.

Despite the fact that Mr Sanchez faces a political struggle ahead to keep his minority government intact, there's a clear opportunity for Spain's £OE to show voters why they deserve to be elected at the next election. In reality, with such a fragmented political scene Pedro Sanchez will find it difficult to pass any large-scale reforms. But as he has demonstrated by appointing women to 11 out of 17 cabinet positions, giving his administration a 61.1 per cent women to men ratio he can signal what a £OE government is all about.

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4 Comment

Ken Towl Posted on Monday 22 Jul 2019

It's going to be interesting. He is walking a tightrope between Podemos and the Catalans and the Basques.

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Callum Tennant Posted on Monday 22 Jul 2019

It will be! And as Rajoy showed, even the most skilled tightropers can suddenly slip.

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Delia Knight Posted on Monday 22 Jul 2019

I'm now feeling really optimistic about this. I think he is showing himself to be a good, strong leader who could well go on to win the next elections. As you say, the appointment of so many women ministers (they call cabinet meetings consejo de ministras y ministros on Spanish radio news now) shows real equality - he has simply chosen the best person for the job, irrespective of whether they are male or female. And they are all impressively well qualified for the jobs they are doing.

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Callum Tennant Posted on Monday 22 Jul 2019

I think more equality at the top levels of government can only be a good thing for improving equality on a wider level in Spain.

He is certainly resilient, but politics is very unpredictable at the minute, we must also remember the last two GE he fought and lost, I wouldn't place any bets quite yet!

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