MADRID – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez narrowly avoided a humiliating parliamentary defeat on Wednesday, although the refusal of one of his Catalan nationalist allies to support him cast doubt on the stability of the country's new government.
Sanchez, whose Socialist Workers Party formed a ruling coalition with the leftist Somar party in November, had been seeking to pass a number of measures through Congress contained in three separate laws already introduced by decree in December.
The legislation, which requires parliamentary approval to remain in effect, included an extension of anti-inflation measures, which was approved by a margin of one vote. Separate legislation, also approved, included changes to the management of the judiciary and the civil service, which were required to ensure the release of a €10 billion tranche of EU recovery funds.
However, the abstention of the pro-independence Junz party from voting throughout the session, and the opposition of the far-left Podemos party to some of the proposed economic measures, meant the government lost the third vote, which included an increase in unemployment benefits.
The approval of the anti-inflation measures means that subsidies for public transport and basic foodstuffs, VAT cuts on energy bills, and pension increases will not be reversed, as the government had feared.
Ahead of the vote, Gantz demanded several changes to government measures, including sanctions on companies that moved their headquarters away from Catalonia in 2017 and then refused to return. It is believed that about 5,000 companies left the region due to political unrest caused by the failure of the independence campaign.
The support of Juntes' seven deputies, as well as several other nationalist parties, was instrumental in securing Sánchez's inauguration in November. In return, his Socialist Workers' Party submitted a controversial amnesty bill to Congress that would benefit Catalans facing legal action over separatist activity. Among them is former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, Gontz's most famous figure, who lives in Belgium.
“We did not come here with a commitment to stability or both [Junts and PSOE] She embarked on this adventure knowing the risks,” Gantz’s Miriam Nogueras told the chamber, making many believe the party would vote against the government.
However, Juntes said that by abstaining from the vote, he was able to negotiate some last-minute concessions, including greater control for Catalonia on migration-related issues.
The closeness of the votes highlighted the fragility of Sanchez's administration and sparked criticism of his reliance on Juntes.
“It is clear who is responsible: it is Puigdemont,” said Alberto Nuñez Viejo, leader of the conservative Popular Party.
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