Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has secured a second term in office after winning a heated vote of confidence that hinged on his offer of a controversial amnesty to Catalan separatists involved in the 2017 independence bid.
The vote on Thursday came nearly four months after a snap election in July that saw Sánchez’s Socialist party narrowly lose to the conservative People’s party, which failed to form a government with the support of the far-right Vox party and other allies.
Sánchez, however, managed to form a coalition with the leftwing Sumar alliance and gain the backing of smaller regional parties, including Catalan and Basque nationalists, by agreeing to their amnesty demands.
The proposed amnesty law, which Sánchez says will help the country move on from the past, has sparked outrage from the PP and Vox, which have accused him of betraying the national interest, lying to voters and undermining the constitution. The issue has also triggered large protests across Spain and violent clashes between police and far-right groups outside the Socialist party’s headquarters in Madrid.
Sánchez defended his decision in parliament on Wednesday, saying it was not a sign of weakness but of strength. “We’re going to grant an amnesty to those people who are facing legal action over the [Catalan independence] process,” he said. “This amnesty will benefit many people, political leaders whose ideas I do not share and whose actions I reject, but also hundreds of citizens who were swept up in the process.”
But PP’s leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, said on Thursday that Sánchez had given in to the separatists and put his personal ambition above the country’s welfare. “We’ll try to work for our country and to recover the sanity that the personal ambition of the man who is now prime minister had led down a blind alley,” he said.