Socialist candidate elected Spanish parliament speaker in 1st vote after election

Socialist candidate elected Spanish parliament speaker in 1st vote after election

Catalan nationalist groups back the left in exchange for some important concessions

By Alyssa McMurtry

OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – The Socialist Party candidate for the Spanish parliament’s new speaker won with an absolute majority on Thursday, marking a left-wing victory in the first parliamentary vote since national elections.

Left-wing politicians were negotiating until the last minute with Catalan political groups, who emerged as kingmakers after the surprise election results this summer.

In exchange for the support of the Socialist candidate Francina Armengol, the Socialists promised to allow the use of minority languages in Spain’s parliament (Catalan, Basque and Galician), open a new investigation into the use of Pegasus spyware against Catalan separatists, and launch another inquiry into the 2017 terrorist attacks in Barcelona.

Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares also announced that Spain has solicited that Catalan, Basque and Galician be recognized as co-official languages at the European level.

Winning a vote for the speaker of parliament represents the left-wing bloc’s first critical victory after the election results resulted in a hung parliament. Neither the right nor the left won a majority, and both need to find the support of regional groups to be able to form a government.

Gaining the speaker position in parliament allows the Socialists to set a date for when politicians will be able to vote on government formation.

In another positive sign for the left, the right-wing bloc fractured in their votes for speaker, with Vox voting for its own candidate, not the Popular Party’s.

However, Carles Puigdemont, the exiled former Catalan leader who runs the kingmaker party Junts per Catalunya, insisted that support for a candidate speaker does not equal support for a left-wing government.

The leader, still wanted by the Spanish justice system, tweeted that negotiations on government formation “remain exactly where they were the day after the elections.”

In Spain, political parties must find majority support to form a government – if not, the country would have to go back to the polls.

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