Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Socialist takes over as Spain’s prime minister after corruption scandal

Socialist takes over as Spain’s prime minister after corruption scandal | TheHill Opposition Socialist Leader Sworn-in PM of Spain
Faye Gross | 04 June, 2018, 04:20

Pedro Sanchez has been sworn in as Spain's prime minister, a day after the Socialist leader successfully ousted predecessor Mariano Rajoy who lost a no-confidence vote in parliament.

The ceremony was held at the royal residence, the Zarzuela Palace, and was attended by King Felipe VI.

Sanchez led the motion to unseat Rajoy from his position.

He did so without swearing on the Bible or Crucifix, a first for a Spanish prime minister since the restoration of the democracy.

Sanchez toppled Rajoy following a court ruling in a major corruption case involving the conservative leader's Popular Party.

Less than two hours after Sanchez had taken his oath to uphold the Spanish Constitution, Catalan chief Quim Torra demanded to meet with Sanchez and speak "government to government" regarding the future of the restive northeastern region.

"Our "yes" to Sanchez is a "no" to Rajoy", Mr Tarda said.

Mr Sanchez became prime minister with only 84 seats in the 350-member assembly thanks to support from the hard-left Podemos and smaller nationalist parties.

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But while Mr Sanchez's appointment could have implications for Catalonia, it is unlikely to rock the status quo in Europe as the new leader of the eurozone's fourth biggest economy is a staunch supporter of the European Union and the shared currency.

His ousting of Mr Rajoy, a 63-year-old EU-friendly veteran politician who had been in power since 2011 and was present during the oath, comes at a time of political instability in Europe as Italy brings in a new eurosceptic anti-establishment government.

The new Prime Minister faces significant challenges and an uphill battle as he assumes office.

"Pedro Sanchez, let us talk, take risks, both you and I, let us sit down at a table and talk, government to government."

CNN reports Sanchez has said he wants to hold a snap general election soon but hasn't set a date.

Sanchez had been Rajoy's most loyal backer of a government takeover of Catalonia's regional affairs following an illegal - and unsuccessful - declaration of independence by the region's parliament in October.

The Basque Nationalist Party, whose five seats were key to Sanchez securing enough parliamentary backing, withdrew support from Rajoy after dozens of people linked to his centre-right People's Party were sentenced to decades in jail in a corruption trial. But NBC News notes that it's not clear how long the former Economics professor's administration can last.

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