He has been at the center of conversations between the political forces of the parliamentary arc for days. Few times has the vote of the Congress Table been so tight, and with its negotiations alive until the last minute. The result of its composition will draw a preview of what may happen in an eventual investiture session, after the 23-J left several possible equations open. But control of the highest body of the lower house also implies the development of a series of essential functions that will mark the parliamentary agenda of the XV legislature, about to begin. The PSOE will propose Francina Armengol, former president of the Balearic Islands, for the Presidency of Congress, according to what the party has reported.
Functions of the Table of Congress. The highest collegiate body of the Chamber is made up of nine members: the president, four vice-presidents and four secretaries. And its functions are divided into two blocks: managing the internal government of Congress and organizing parliamentary work, whose powers are regulated in articles ranging from 30 to 35 of the Regulations of Congress.
The Bureau draws up the Congress budget, controls its execution and expenses. And it has competences in terms of personnel. Regarding the management of parliamentary operations, it sets the lines of action, coordinates the work of the different bodies that make up the Chamber, qualifies the writings presented by the political forces and decides on the procedure. As concrete examples, the Board decides the calendars of the legislative initiatives presented according to the regulations, hence the importance of having a majority, since it can facilitate or hinder the processing of laws.
The president of Congress is the third institution of the State and acts on behalf of the Chamber. Thus, after the King’s round of contacts with the political groups, once Felipe VI has received the candidate’s proposal for the Presidency of the Government, he will convene the eventual plenary session of investiture. The head of state does not have a scheduled calendar for the round or for communication, but once the president of Congress convenes said plenary session, the electoral clock is activated, which can lead to the appointment of Alberto Núñez Feijóo or Pedro Sánchez as presidents of the Government in the first or second round, or trigger the third electoral repetition of democracy.
Final stretch. The deputies have until this Wednesday to collect the credentials that endorse them as parliamentarians. The leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, will be one of the last to take over the portfolio, despite the fact that he could have done so since July 31. This Wednesday, in addition, the leaders of the main parties will hold a meeting in Congress with the deputies and senators of their respective parliamentary groups. The acting President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, plans this first meeting at 12:30 p.m., while Feijóo will speak with his people in the afternoon, just a few hours before the crucial vote.
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Constitution of the Courts. The following day, Thursday the 17th, the 350 deputies —still elected— are summoned for the constitution session of the Cortes. The day will start at 10:00 a.m. in the Chamber, with an eye on the decision made by the Junts executive, that same morning, in a previous meeting in which they will determine the direction of their vote for that same day.
The first step of the session will be to form the Age Table, chaired by the oldest deputy, who is assisted by the two youngest, as secretaries. The president will declare the session open and one of the secretaries will read the royal decree of convocation, as well as list the elected deputies one by one, and the possible contentious-electoral appeals that may have been filed. Then proceed to the vote of the Congress Table.
Political parties can present candidates to preside over the Table of Congress. Then, the elected deputies write a name by hand on a piece of paper and put it in the ballot box. It is the members of the Senior Board who manage the process and read the name written on each ballot one by one. In a first vote, the winner will be whoever achieves an absolute majority (176 seats). But if nobody agglutinates said sum, a second vote will be carried out and only with the two most voted candidates, and in which a simple majority will be required: more yeses than noes. Once the president of the Board is known —and therefore, of the Congress—, the four vice-presidents are elected, who are voted simultaneously. The elected deputies can only write one name on the ballot and the most voted will be elected as first, second, third and fourth, in successive order to the number of votes. Finally, the four secretaries are designated in the same way.
Once the nine members are elected, they will sit in their seats located in the Presidency of the Hemicycle, to give way to the act of compliance with the Constitution. In the first place, these members of the Bureau, and then the rest of the deputies in alphabetical order. The acting members of the Government who have obtained a seat abide by the fundamental rule last. Finally, the Presidency of Congress declares the Chamber constituted, adjourns the session, and informs the King, the Senate and the Government in office.
Possibilities of both blocks. In practice, the political parties distribute the seats of the Table according to previous agreements, with the accounts made, and occupying the seats according to the representativeness and shared interests. The two main unknowns of this session are the vote of the Canarian Coalition (CC) deputy and that of the seven Junts. Last week, CC opened the door to support Feijóo by being guaranteed that Vox will not enter the Government, but its secretary general and president of the Canary Islands, Fernando Clavijo, did not rule out making Pedro Sánchez president either in an interview published this weekend week in La Vanguardia. This double possibility is transferred in turn to the vote of the Table, since the negotiations are closely related.
The block led by Feijóo has guaranteed its 137 seats plus the 33 of the ultras, in addition to that of UPN, favorable from the beginning. In this way, this bloc would have 171 seats, so the popular ones could not win the presidency of Congress in the first round because they are five short of an absolute majority; nor by a simple majority in a second vote if all the others vote against. In case of adding the seat of CC, a simple majority would be possible if the opposing block did not have at least the same yeses.
On the other hand, the Socialists aspire to unite, around their 121 seats, Sumar’s 31, ERC’s 7, EH Bildu’s 6, PNV’s 5 and the only deputy from BNG. The PSOE could only win the presidency of Congress in the first round by an absolute majority if Junts grants at least five votes in favor in this scenario, which would place it at just 176 seats. Or, in the second vote, if Puigdemont’s party provides three votes in favour, the essentials for a simple majority. In this case, the sum would be 174, compared to 172 for the PP. But, if it were the PSOE that got the vote in favor of CC, it would get a simple majority, without the need for Junts.
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