29th Sep 2023

Spain's socialists win presidency of lower chamber

  • Spain's acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez. The new legislature begins — but everything is still up in the air (Photo: La Moncloa)
Listen to article

Thursday (17 August) saw the start of a newly-elected parliament in Spain, with the MPs meeting for the first time in congress (the lower house) to decide who will preside over the chamber.

Although the official legislature has begun, everything is still up in the air, as the constitution of the Cortes is independent of the investiture negotiations.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The socialist group, led by acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez, following his surprise election success in a snap election earlier this summer, once again achieved what seemed impossible: their socialist candidate, Francina Armengol, secured the presidency of the congress.

In less than a month, the socialists (PSOE) gathered enough support for Armengol — which will allow it to preside over congress.

Armengol will now become the third most important person in the state, after the King and the president of the government.

This victory is crucial in terms of managing political timing, the parliamentary agenda, working committees and the drafting of legislation, among other things.

However, the congress presidency does not guarantee that Sánchez's investiture as prime minister will go ahead, although it brings it closer, if there is nationalist support.

Catalan pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont tweeted on Wednesday: "The congress bureau is not going to hold a position for us, nor is it about the inauguration".

In the same message, he added that "verifiable facts" would be needed before committing to any vote.

Last month's election left the largest single party, the conservative Popular Party (PP), without a sufficient majority to govern alone and without the support to form a coalition government.

PP won 137 seats and the PSOE 121. The third and fourth political forces, far-right Vox and lefwting Sumar, won 33 and 31 seats respectively, leaving potential coalitions without a clear working majority.

So now Catalan separatist leader Puigdemont, who lives in self-exile in Waterloo, Belgium, holds the key to Sánchez's ability to govern or to a repeat of the elections (which could take place in mid-December.)

Puigdemont's support for Sánchez's investiture will not be easy.

In return for his backing, the Catalan self-exiled leader is demanding an amnesty for all those who took part in the failed referendum on Catalan independence in 2017, as well as the possibility of holding a new vote on self-determination.

For now, both the PSOE and Sumar are in talks with the Catalan MEP, but Sánchez has only reiterated his commitment to promoting Spain's co-official languages, including Catalan, in European institutions.

"The inclusion of co-official languages must be a task in all institutions and that is why we are going to promote their use in EU institutions as a commitment that I will use throughout the Spanish presidency," the acting PM said on Wednesday.

Vox's failure leaves Spain with hung parliament

Sunday's election in Spain has left a fragmented political landscape, where no party or potential coalition has achieved a clear working majority — raising concerns about a stalemate or even new elections.


Spain's EU-language bid and UN summit This WEEK

While the heads of EU institutions are in New York for the UN high level meeting, Spain's EU presidency will try to convince ministers to make Catalan, Basque, and Galician official EU languages.


How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?

The EU Commission's new magic formula for avoiding scrutiny is simple. You declare the documents in question to be "short-lived correspondence for a preliminary exchange of views" and thus exempt them from being logged in the official inventory.


Will Poles vote for the end of democracy?

International media must make clear that these are not fair, democratic elections. The flawed race should be the story at least as much as the race itself.

Latest News

  1. Added-value for Russia diamond ban, as G7 and EU prepare sanctions
  2. EU states to agree on asylum crisis bill, say EU officials
  3. Poland's culture of fear after three years of abortion 'ban'
  4. Time for a reset: EU regional funding needs overhauling
  5. Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border
  6. EU Ombudsman warns of 'new normal' of crisis decision-making
  7. How do you make embarrassing EU documents 'disappear'?
  8. Resurgent Fico hopes for Slovak comeback at Saturday's election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators, industry & healthcare experts at the 24th IMDRF session, September 25-26, Berlin. Register by 20 Sept to join in person or online.
  2. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  3. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  4. International Medical Devices Regulators Forum (IMDRF)Join regulators & industry experts at the 24th IMDRF session- Berlin September 25-26. Register early for discounted hotel rates
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us