Abandoned by Allies, Spain’s Sánchez Loses Spending Vote

The defeat exposes the weakness of the Socialist’s minority government.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17 (La Moncloa)

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez has lost his first big parliamentary vote, exposing the weakness of his minority government and blocking one of his priorities: to raise public spending.

The plan

Sánchez, who unseated the conservative Mariano Rajoy as prime minister in June with the support of regionalist and other left-wing parties, had proposed to raise public spending by 4.4 percent to €125 billion next year. Spain’s deficit would have gone up from 1.3 to 1.8 percent of GDP as a result.

The spending plan has been negotiated with the European Commission, which monitors EU member states’ compliance with the bloc’s fiscal rules.

New leaders

Leadership changes in two other parties sank Sánchez’ plan.

  • The center-right Catalan European Democratic Party has purged its moderate leadership and now conditions support for Sánchez’ government on him agreeing to an independence referendum in the region.
  • The conservative People’s Party, which still has a majority in the Senate, has replaced Rajoy with Pablo Casado, who takes a harder line against the new government.

Abandoned

Once it became clear the spending bill would fail, Sánchez’ other allies also abandoned him.

The far-left Podemos took the opportunity to highlight the differences between itself and the center-left, arguing for even higher spending.

Regionalist and separatist parties from Asturias, the Basque Country, the Canary Islands and Valencia also either voted against the plan or abstained.

Sánchez’ Socialists have only 84 out of the 350 seats in Congress.