King Felipe VI shakes hands with the leader of the PSOE and acting president of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, before their meeting held this Tuesday at the La Zarzuela Palace, within the framework of the round of contacts to designate a new candidate to preside over the Government of Spain.Juanjo Guillén (EFE)
After the president of Congress, Francina Armengol, publicly announced that the King had designated Pedro Sánchez as a candidate for president of the Government and the affected person himself declared at a press conference that he had accepted the assignment, the King’s House has made published this Tuesday a statement in which it informs of Felipe VI’s decision.
Since the news had already been given and confirmed, the objective of the La Zarzuela note was not so much to inform of the King’s decision, but to justify it. That explains its length.
Firstly, the statement recalls that, on September 29, Armengol officially informed the King that, after undergoing the two scheduled votes, his first candidate to preside over the Government, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, had been rejected by Congress. Next, he adds, Felipe VI called for a new round of consultations with the representatives of the parliamentary parties, held this Monday and Tuesday.
“In view of the constitutional provision to process successive proposals, the result of the previous investiture and the willingness to be a candidate in a new investiture process of the representative of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, His Majesty the King has proposed Don Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón as a candidate for the Presidency of the Government,” the note adds. And remember that, according to article 99 of the Constitution, “the proposed candidate, just as the first candidate did, will present before the Congress of Deputies the political program of the Government that he intends to form and will request the confidence of the Chamber, constitutionally corresponding “It is up to the Congress of Deputies to decide whether, based on the above, it grants or denies confidence in the proposed candidate.”
Although the statement may seem like a bunch of obvious things, sectors of the extreme right have been pressuring in recent weeks for the King to deviate from the constitutional mandate and not entrust Pedro Sánchez with forming a government, letting the two-month deadline pass after the first vote for Núñez Feijóo without designating a candidate, which would cause the automatic dissolution of the chambers and the calling of new elections. His argument: that Sánchez’s hypothetical pact with the independentists would put the unity of Spain and the constitutional order at risk, as leaders of the PP and Vox have been repeating.
However, Felipe VI did not want to leave room for doubt and, as soon as the second round of consultations with the political groups concluded, he officially announced his decision. He has done so because, as La Zarzuela recalls, article 172 of the Constitution provides for “successive proposals” for candidates to be processed; and because, he adds, it is up to the Congress of Deputies and not the head of state to choose the president of the Government by granting or denying his confidence to the candidate.
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Also the statement in which the King’s House announced the nomination of Alberto Núñez Feijóo was extensive. On that occasion, the controversy was that the president of the PP did not have and could not have, as was later proven, the necessary votes to be invested. La Zarzuela then justified the royal decision by alleging that Feijóo was the candidate of the political group that had the largest number of seats and that offering the possibility of investiture to the winner of the elections had become a “custom” in the democratic stage, without that an alternative majority be contemplated at that time that would make this practice decline. In August, as now, the statement also referred to the PP leader’s willingness to present himself as a candidate. Voluntariness thus turns out to be an essential factor, as demonstrated in 2016 when Mariano Rajoy, winner of the elections, refused to run and Sánchez had to do so.
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