After the constitution of the Table of Congress —where the progressive bloc holds the absolute majority of the body, including the presidency, thanks to the support of 178 deputies—, the next dilemma is faced by King Felipe VI with the decision of who he proposes first as candidate for the investiture as Prime Minister. The dilemma is not minor, and it has some precedents in the three successive rounds of consultations that the head of state had to space out throughout 2016, when Mariano Rajoy declined Felipe VI’s first proposal to attempt the investiture and after the vote to the that Pedro Sánchez did submit. The Royal House justified its first proposal in favor of Rajoy in “the natural order” of the electoral results, given that the PP had been the party with the most votes, even though it did not have an absolute majority.
The PSOE and the new president of the Cortes, the socialist Francina Armengol, now defend that the vote with which the progressive majority took control of the Congress Table (178 votes) on Thursday should “mark the way” for the possible inauguration of Sánchez. Moncloa avoids speaking out in order to “not put pressure” on Felipe VI, as they understand that Feijóo’s PP does by insisting on his candidacy despite not having enough support for it to prosper.
Felipe VI received Francina Armengol this Friday morning, just one day after the vote in Congress that granted her the Presidency of the Cortes and placed her as the third authority of the State with an absolute majority of 178 votes. This figure was a knock on the interests of the PSOE to place Sánchez as the main candidate to be sworn in as president, despite the fact that immediately after the vote several of the parties that supported Armengol, such as ERC, Bildu, PNV or Junts , they qualified that the most serious and deep negotiation begins now. But the PSOE, Armengol herself and sources close to the acting president understand that this bar is a hopeful precedent for their possibilities, especially since it seems “evident” to them that the alternative with Feijóo does not exist.
The president of Congress spoke on Cadena SER about the round of consultations that the King will undertake next Monday and Tuesday with the seven parties represented in Parliament that have expressed their intention to attend these hearings, provided for in article 99 of the Constitution: “The candidate who has the majority of the votes of the deputies will be presented and the new Government will be based on that majority. Yesterday (referring to Thursday) we had a demonstration of a normal vote in the constitution of the Table”. Armengol later specified on TVE that this “great majority”, made up of deputies from the PSOE, Sumar, ERC, EH Bildu, PNV, Junts and BNG, “undoubtedly marks a path” for the investiture. And she pointed out: “It is evident that there was a large majority that approved a Board with a progressive majority.”
The PSOE deputy and first vice president of Congress, Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis, elaborated on this line. “It was clearly seen (in the vote of the Table last Thursday) that the PP does not have a majority to be able to reach the Government, to be president and, therefore, the only true option on the table is that of Pedro Sánchez “, he pointed.
In La Moncloa they avoid choosing publicly because they want to distance themselves from the conditions that they understand that the PP is sending to the King by persisting in the idea that Feijóo should be the first candidate for the investiture despite the lack of sufficient support. That same lack of support led former President Mariano Rajoy to resign from running for investiture in January 2016 despite King Felipe VI’s proposal.
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Two leaders of Feijóo’s team —Javier Maroto, recently elected first vice president of the Senate; and Pedro Rollán, vice-secretary and president of the Upper House since Thursday— struck this Friday about that message and took it for granted that the connection with Vox will be rebuilt and Feijóo will have 33 of his seats in that hypothetical investiture. The general secretary of Vox, Ignacio Garriga, hinted at this option in an interview on Telecinco by once again offering the PP its “outstretched hand” to avoid a Sánchez government, which he equated with the “coup by Carles Puigdemont”, but as long as they are given explanations “of what strategy” Feijóo is in, if in that of collaborating with the ultra formation as in some autonomous communities where they govern together, or as in Murcia, where that possibility is denied.
The King and the Royal House have experienced similar complications in the recent past for the investiture of the Prime Minister. With the precedents registered during the convulsive electoral year of 2016, in which the Royal House set criteria in various official communiqués, Felipe VI will be calling the different parties to probe their positions “by the natural order” of the electoral results set on 23 -J but from minor to major. Feijóo, thus, would attend on the afternoon of Tuesday the last and it seems clear, with the reaffirmation of this Friday, that the PP candidate will communicate that he has the theoretical support of 172 deputies, 137 of his, 33 of Vox, and the two from the Union of the Navarro People and the Canary Islands Coalition. He is about to finally ratify what Vox says at that moment, when its leader, Santiago Abascal, appears before the monarch that morning.
In this round of consultations, Pedro Sánchez, who will attend La Zarzuela before Feijóo, will have the disadvantage of not being able to secure even more votes for the 152 of the PSOE and Sumar, than the six of EH Bildu, that is, 158, 14 less. than those promised by the leader of the PP. Not even the five from the PNV are already committed, nor are the seven from ERC or Junts, nor the one from the BNG. In the background of 2016, after Rajoy declined the first offer by surprise, Felipe VI gave himself a few weeks break and offered the possibility to Sánchez, who ended up presenting himself and losing the vote in Congress. The monarch subsequently opened a third round of consultations, months later, without success, and ended up calling a new electoral process.
The difference now is that Feijóo is willing to take on the challenge, and the risk, of examining his options before the Lower House. But Felipe VI could convey to the representatives of the parties next week that the outlook is far from clear, despite the promises of the two candidates that they could win allies shortly, and give themselves a new term to call them again a few days later.
Buying time is what the PP candidate to preside over the Community, María Guardiola, who came second in the elections after the socialist Guillermo Fernández Vara, tried in July in Extremadura, with the idea that her talks with the ultras of Vox would prosper. It was what she asked the president of the regional Assembly and that she did not grant.
In La Moncloa they do not want to publicly demonstrate what their preferences are in the order of possible investitures because they maintain that now it is the turn for Felipe VI to speak with his decisions and because they want to avoid any statement that sounds like pressure. In Sánchez’s environment, an attempt is being made to manage this delicate moment “without haste, without rushing, without forcing or conditioning the King, but without pause”, although Armengol acknowledged in the SER that the interim government should not take too long either. What they do concede “is that it is evident that there is no other possible candidate who can reach a majority than Sánchez, because Feijóo has made water.”
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