The leader of the Spanish conservatives is far from the prime ministership despite the success of the elections

Spanish conservative leader Alberto Núñez Feijo will have his chance to form a new government this week – something previously thought to be doomed given a lack of parliamentary support.

Feijo's People's Party won the most votes on July 23 in a general election without a clear winner that left all parties far enough from an absolute majority to complicate their path to power.

If Feijo fails to form a government, as expected, then incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will win his right to try to stay in Moncloa Palace (the Spanish prime minister's residence) while trying to win over a diverse group of leftists, local-patriotic and even separatist parties.

Here's what you need to know about the situation surrounding Feijo's mandate to form a government, whose attempt will begin today, with his speech in the Spanish parliament.

The leader of the Popular Party, Spain's traditional center-right force, will have two chances to become the next prime minister of the European Union's fourth-largest economy. But unless there is a surprise, he will lose both votes in Parliament for his cabinet.

On Wednesday, 24 hours after the parliamentary debate, Feijo will need an absolute majority of 176 votes from the 350-member lower house of Spain's parliament in Madrid (Congress of Deputies).

If he does not reach that quota, the criteria will be lowered on Friday and the candidate for power will simply need more votes "for" than "against". Such a scenario would open up the possibility of dissenting voices tipping the scales in his favor.

The People's Party has the most parliamentary mandates - one hundred and thirty-seven. But even with the far-right Vox party's thirty-three votes and two more from small conservative parties from the Navarre region and the Canary Islands, they are still four votes short.

It looks like Feijo's chance depends on someone not voting, and that would be a surprise.

The two Catalan separatist parties, which could be a factor, ruled out the possibility that their MPs would "abstain" from the vote, describing the People's Party's attitude towards their secessionist movement as militant.

That leaves the conservative Basque Nationalist Party, which has said no deal linking it with the Vox party, which insists on a centralized state and refuses to condemn a 20th-century dictator like Francisco Franco, is possible.

“There's an elephant that's not even in the room; he is in the living room blocking any access of the BNP to any relationship (with Feijo) and that elephant is Vox," BNP president Andoni Ortusar told Spanish national radio. .

Feijo's difficulties became apparent last month when the Socialists, although the second parliamentary force in the lower house, managed to garner more votes than his People's Party in electing a Socialist to the post of speaker.

If Feijo loses the vote, it would automatically trigger a two-month period in which other candidates would step forward to seek parliamentary approval to form a new government. If no candidate passes the test, then the parliament will be dissolved on November 27, and new elections will be scheduled for January 14.

Sánchez and his partners have already taken it for granted that Feijo will not succeed and are now working to gather the supporters needed to repeat the leftist coalition of the Socialists and the leftist Sumar movement.

However, the price will be high. Sanchez will also depend on the possible support of the Catalan separatist party "Junts" ("Junts per Catalunya" - "Together for Catalonia"), whose leader Carles Puigdemont is in exile in Brussels, where he is an MEP.

Puigdemont left Spain in 2017 after leading the failed Catalan independence movement. Although support for separatist parties fell in July's election at the expense of the Socialist-led Catalan Unionist parties, Puigdemont now wields the power of a balancer thanks to Junts' seven parliamentary seats.

His condition is nothing less than amnesty for an unspecified number of Catalan separatists, possibly several thousand, who are in trouble with the law for their role in the separatist rebellion six years ago.

Such an amnesty would not be widely approved in Spain, especially given that Puigdemont and many of his followers have not repented after nearly destroying the state.

Although none of the Socialists have publicly spoken of amnesty, Sánchez has pardoned senior leaders of the movement in the past and appears ready to discuss an even greater act of generosity in order to, as he says, "normalize" the political situation in Catalonia, which has located in the Spanish northeast.

With the controversy over a possible amnesty overshadowing the debate over his own fate, Feijo is trying to use the division created by the possibility of a pardon to boost his slim chances.

The People's Party called a protest rally in Madrid on Sunday against the possible amnesty, and its members urged disgruntled Socialists to back Feijo to prevent Sanchez from making a deal with the separatists.

Alberto Núñez Feijo will face criticism from his own party if he fails to become prime minister. Sixty-two-year-old Feijo spent most of his political career as a modest local leader in the agricultural northwest corner of Spain - Galicia.

Described as a moderate politician, he is already feeling pressure from supporters of the more hard-line Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the popular premier of the Madrid region, who clashed with Sanchez on several occasions during the Covid-19 pandemic over anti-epidemic measures imposed by the federal government. /

Retrieved from The Associated Press
photo: EPA

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