PEDRO Sánchez, appointed Prime Minister of Spain after his successful, no-confidence vote against the PP’s Mariano Rajoy, prospered with 180 votes, which was just four more than the majority required.
The 46-year-old, who leads the Socialist PSOE party, had been without a current seat in Parliament, having resigned in 2016. But he has now moved into Madrid’s Moncloa Palace, the official presidential residence.
Rajoy, gracious in defeat, congratulated Sanchez, who said: “Today, democracy has won. A new era in Spanish politics is beginning. I am reaching out to all the parliamentary groups to open these new times, and I hope we are all up to the responsibilities we have ahead of us.”
Sánchez, born in Madrid in 1972, is a business and economics graduate, who earned three Master’s degrees.
He joined PSOE as a student in 1993, and, having completed his studies, served as chief of staff to the UN high representative to Bosnia, during the 1999 Kosovo conflict.
He became a Madrid city councillor in 2004 and served for five years, before being elected, as a PSOE MP, to the Congress of Deputies for Madrid in 2009.
But after losing his seat in 2011, he returned to studying, and was awarded a doctorate in economics from the Camilo Jose Cela University in 2012.
Then, before regaining his Congress seat in 2013, he combined consultancy work with a stint as a university professor.
Sánchez was elected PSOE leader in 2014, on a platform of constitutional reform, progressive fiscal policies and extended welfare rights.
In December 2015, following the election stalemate, he was invited to form a coalition government by the King of Spain. But he was unable to do so, creating divisions within the PSOE ranks.
Following a second, inconclusive ballot six months later, he was deposed in October 2016, having refused to play a part in enabling Rajoy’s return to office.
He resigned his seat, promptly, and went on a political road trip to reconnect with Spanish voters. The gamble paid off when he sailed to victory against Susana Diaz in a new party leadership contest.
And the latest events have completed a remarkable comeback.
Sánchez, married with two daughters, is an atheist, who enjoys languages and is fluent in English and French. He also loves playing basketball.
But he faces a tough challenge because his party, the second-largest in Parliament, holds just 84 seats out of the 350 available.
Also, his new job comes right in the middle of the Catalunya separatist crisis, which led Rajoy’s right-wing PP government to strip the region of its self-ruling powers, in addition to several politicians being jailed, or forced into exile.
Spain has also been warned by the European Union that it is likely to fail in its debt targets this year. Yet essential services, such as education, welfare, social care and healthcare remain under-funded and under-staffed.
While unemployment has fallen dramatically since the PP took office in November 2011, the job-seeker percentage shows part of the story only: wages continue to be low, with one of the most reduced minimum wages in western Europe, and temporary work, with long gaps in between are rife.
In fact, over 90% of new jobs created are temporary only, often seasonal, and even outside of the main tourism belts.
Balancing the books and trying to solve the Catalunya independence crisis would be complicated enough for a government with a Parliamentary majority. But that’s something Spain has not had since the November 2015 general elections.
Sánchez, in thanking Parliament for its support, said he intended to work for “social cohesion” and “social stability”.
That will mean him “attending to some, long-overdue social emergencies, created and neglected by the PP”, as well as addressing issues of gender equality and the environment, “as society is calling for”.
Crucially, he said the interests of Spain’s people would always be put before those of politicians and parties.
The new Prime Minister is “conscious of the responsibility” he is taking on, but he pledges to exercise his role “with dedication and humility”, aiming to “transform and modernise” the country.
As he said, finally: “Spain deserves it.”
Parliamentary chairwoman Ana Pastor (PP) attended the Zarzuela Palace to communicate, officially, the change of Prime Minister to King Felipe VI.
Rajoy stayed only for a few hours of last Friday’s debate around the no-confidence motion. He left the building at around 3.15pm and missed the remaining discussions, which went on until the night.
And while Rajoy sat with close friends for eight hours in a restaurant near the Parliament building, his deputy, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, used the now-ex PM’s chair for her handbag.
During one of the most critical Parliamentary discussions so far this year, left-wing Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias quipped: “It’s a shame Rajoy’s seat is occupied by a handbag.”

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Posted by on Jun 8 2018. Filed under Local News, Home Page Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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