The left has covered the first milestone in its objective of reissuing the coalition government. After several days of uncertainty and shocks, the acting Executive closed an agreement with the Catalan independence groups, including the toughest of them, Junts, which has allowed the election of the socialist Francina Armengol, 52, as the new president of Congress . Armengol has received 178 votes, two more than the absolute majority of the Chamber, compared to 139 for Cuca Gamarra, the PP candidate, and 33 for Ignacio Gil-Lázaro, of Vox. The entire left and all the Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalist groups supported Armengol, president of the Balearic Islands until last May. The right divided their votes after the PP refused to reach an agreement with Vox to distribute the posts on the Table. Canarian Coalition supported the PP candidate.
The day dawned without clarifying the future of the Congress Table, although since the night before optimism had settled in the ranks of the acting Government and its allies when verifying a rapprochement of positions in the negotiation with Junts, the party of Carles Puigdemont, the hardest bone for Pedro Sánchez and his team. The Junts executive had called a telematic meeting at eight in the morning, two hours before the start of the plenary session of constitution of the Cortes. The intrigue did not last too long, because just before nine o’clock, sources from Junts already announced an agreement in principle.
Minutes later, ERC summoned the media in Congress to anticipate its rivals in the pro-independence camp to also announce an agreement and the terms, similar to those agreed by the PSOE with Junts. The most outstanding thing is the commitment of the Socialists to promote the use in Congress of the co-official languages, until now exclusive to the Senate. This was one of the issues on which the two negotiating parties maintained a tug of war until the end. The PSOE and Sumar have also given guarantees that an investigation commission will be created into the alleged espionage of pro-independence leaders through the Pegasus system.
One of the issues that had made the negotiation the most difficult in recent days, and that even threatened to make it sink, was the demand of Junts, to which ERC later joined, of concrete commitments to promote an amnesty for Catalan politicians and activists. with pending cases due to the process. Finally, the issue has been resolved with a commitment, still in vague terms, that initiatives in this regard will not be blocked in Congress. In the last legislature, the Table blocked a bill promoted by the Catalan independence movement in view of a report by the lawyers who considered that its content exceeded the Constitution. On this matter, there is no unanimous opinion among jurists.
Once the agreement was finalized early in the morning, the voting took place without surprises. The regulations of the Congress establish that the candidate who obtains an absolute majority in a first vote or, if it is not reached, a simple majority in the second, will achieve the presidency. Junts could have made himself even more noticeable by postponing his support for Armengol to the second vote, but he gave up prolonging the intrigue. The former Balearic president thus obtained all the support of PSOE, Sumar, ERC, Junts, EH Bildu, PNV and BNG.
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The Canarian Coalition, which did not express its position until the last minute and which could have been decisive if Junts had denied its support for the PSOE, finally ended up voting for the popular candidate. By contrast, the two groups on the right broke. Once Junts announced its agreement, PP told Vox that it would not support far-right candidates for the rest of the Bureau’s posts. In response, Santiago Abascal’s party denied Gamarra its vote and backed its own candidate, Ignacio Gil-Lázaro.
The left thus achieves its first victory in the legislature, while the PP, the party with the most votes on July 23, confirms that its electoral victory is useless to reach the Government. Sánchez now has an opportunity, although the task of reproducing this majority in an eventual investiture session is still very difficult. The independentistas warn that they will raise their bet when the negotiation on the presidency of the Government arrives. And his maximum demands are still there ―amnesty and self-determination― with former president Puigdemont as the ultimate arbiter from his refuge in Brussels.
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