Spain PM loses first parliament vote to remain in power

MADRID: Spanish caretaker prime minister Pedro Sanchez lost a first parliamentary confidence vote on Tuesday as he seeks to remain in power after an inconclusive general election. A total of 124 lawmakers in the 350-seat parliament voted for the Socialist premier, leaving him well short of the absolute majority he needed. Another 170 MPs voted against and 52 abstained. Four remaining votes belong to suspended lawmakers. A second, decisive vote has been scheduled for Thursday, before which Sanchez needs to reach a coalition deal with far-left Podemos, a party that was once an arch-rival.

Sanchez is currently caretaker premier after coming first in the April general election but without the majority he needed with just 123 seats, forcing him to look for support. If he manages to form a coalition government, it would be the first in post-dictatorship Spain. In debates on Monday and Tuesday ahead of obligatory post-election parliamentary votes this week, Podemos and regional parties that could back Sanchez accused him of not reaching out to possible allies despite needing their help. The second vote on Thursday requires only a simple majority.

With the support of far-left Podemos’s 42 lawmakers, and a few others from small regional parties, he could get through. But given the anger of these potential allies, that support looks uncertain. Sanchez’s Socialist party has been locked negotiations with Podemos for months and only recently reluctantly agreed to form a coalition government with the party. But Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias angrily lashed out at Sanchez in the parliamentary debate on Monday. He accused the socialists of refusing to give his party positions that carry any kind of weight and wanting them to be “a mere decor” in the government. — AFP