Spain’s acting prime minister signs new deals that secure him parliamentary support to be reelected

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Socialist party on Friday wrapped up deals with a bunch of small parties to ensure acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has enough parliamentary support to be reelected, possibly next week.

The accords follow weeks of intense negotiations and highlighted the Socialists’ ability to reach agreements with parties across the country despite having finished second place in July 23 elections with only 121 parliamentary seats in the 350-seat Parliament.

Sánchez and the Socialists on Friday signed agreements with the Basque Nationalist Party and a Canary Island coalition that mean that Sánchez should be able to count on the support of 179 legislators, three more than the 176 majority required in Parliament to be chosen as the next prime minister.

Sánchez has been in office since 2018.

The president of the parliament is expected to set a date for an investiture debate and vote within the next few days.

Probably the biggest and potentially most damaging deal was struck Thursday with a fringe Catalan separatist party led by fugitive former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont that is promising the support of its seven parliament members in exchange for an amnesty for potentially thousands of people involved in the region’s failed secession bider concessions .

Details of an amnesty bill have yet to be released but it stands to benefit Puigdemont and scores of others, from minor government officials to ordinary citizens, who ran into legal trouble for their roles in Catalonia’s illegal secession attempt that brought Spain to the brink of rupture six years ago.

Spain’s courts are still trying to have Puigdemont extradited from Belgium. Given that he is considered an enemy of the state for many Spaniards, any deal that benefits him is politically toxic.

The amnesty has raised the ire of Spain’s two main opposition parties, the right-of-center Popular Party and the extreme right Vox group. It has also roused discontent in the judiciary and police unions.

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Madrid and Barcelona against the amnesty in recent weeks.

Violence broke out late Thursday night outside the Socialist Party’s headquarters after four consecutive nights of protests. Bottles, beer cans and fireworks were thrown at a heavy police cordon, and officers moved in using batons to break up the protests and make arrests. More protests are planned for Friday and over the weekend.

Sánchez, who formerly opposed an amnesty, insists now it is needed for a return to normal political life in Catalonia and will benefit Spain.

The deals signed so far mean the Socialists and their leftist coalition partner Sumar, which won 31 seats, can count on 27 seats from six smaller parties for the investiture vote. But it remains to be seen if the group will stay intact for the entire four-year parliamentary term.

The Popular Party, under Alberto Núñez Feijóo, won most seats in the July election with 137. but because of its close ties with Vox, almost no other party backed his investiture bid in September.

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