Spain’s Pedro Sanchez has been reelected as prime minister by the nation’s parliament after he leveraged a controversial amnesty deal to get critical support from Catalan separatists to stay in power.
Sanchez, Spain's Socialist leader since 2018, was backed by 179 lawmakers in the 350-seat lower house of parliament to form a new minority leftist coalition government.
Only right-wing opposition deputies voted against him in Thursday's election.
Sanchez won the vote after clinching the support of six smaller parties — including two Catalan separatist parties that command 14 seats— in recent weeks, allowing his Socialists to once again team up with the left-wing Sumar (Joining Forces) party in government.
Despite lingering disagreements, the two Catalan parties as well as two Basque ones said they would back Sanchez but let him know that he must fulfill the economic and political deals reached with each of them.
The two Basque parties pointed out that their support was also key to keeping a progressive government in power and making sure the right wing remained out of office.
The amnesty deal would clean the slate for hundreds of Catalan separatists in legal trouble following the northeast region’s illegal 2017 secession bid that sparked Spain’s biggest crisis in decades.
The agreements with the Catalan parties include opening talks on the possibility of holding an authorised referendum for independence for the wealthy northeast region but within the legal framework of Spain's Constitution.
Sanchez has repeatedly said that he would not permit a vote that could break up Spain.
Criticism over amnesty deal
The amnesty proposal has been heavily criticised by Spain’s judiciary, which considers it a violation of the separation of powers. The European Union is reviewing it.
"The only real reproach that the right makes against us is that with these agreements we will have won the government. Which is what is going to happen today,” Sanchez told lawmakers before they voted.
“I told the president that he had made a mistake, but he is the one responsible for it. The amnesty is the worst way to start the legislature," Popular Party’s Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the opposition leader, said after Sanchez received an ovation from his Socialists for having won reelection.
The speaker of the house will now convey the result to King Felipe VI. Once published in the State Gazette, Sanchez will be sworn in as the new prime minister before the king, most likely on Friday.
Sanchez received congratulations from European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said on X, formerly Twitter, that she looked “forward to working together” and to "bring forward the European project.”
Sanchez's government will continue to oversee the expenditure of tens of millions of euros (dollars) from the European Union's post-pandemic recovery program with its focus on a green energy transformation to adapt to the climate crisis.