Uncertainty. This is probably the word that best defines the current political atmosphere in Spain, a few hours before the first meeting of the Congress of Deputies, in Madrid, this Thursday, August 17. Since the early legislative elections of July 23, won by the conservative People’s Party, no clear majority has emerged for the future investiture of the President of the Government, the date of which has not yet been set.
A first step takes place this Thursday: the election of the office of the Congress of Deputies. The appointment of this office is far from being anecdotal: this body manages the entire internal system of the Congress of Deputies and above all decides on the admission to study of laws and proposals from political groups. A prerogative that allows the office to slow down or speed up parliamentary initiatives. This first political battle will deliver a trend and clues to the balance of forces involved.
The Socialists, like the Conservatives, will try to occupy the presidency of the Congress of Deputies. But at present, it remains difficult to know who will win, as the negotiations remained opaque during the first part of August. Parliamentary arithmetic is most complex. The right does not reach an absolute majority and cannot forge enough alliances to govern, even with the support of deputies from the far-right Vox party.
The Socialist Party of outgoing Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who came in second, can on the other hand gather a majority, on condition of securing the support of the separatist party Junts per Catalunya, of Carles Puigdemont, which has seven deputies. If the latter finally decides to abstain, only one elected, that of Coalition Canaries, could tip the scales to the left or to the right. Suffice to say that all parties will hold their breath this Thursday.
Especially since the position of Carles Puigdemont’s party remains indecipherable. Refugee in Belgium since October 2017, under accusations from the Spanish justice, raises the stakes: his party puts on the table a request for amnesty and the organization of a referendum of self-determination. And to better show its mastery of the political tempo, the management of Junts per Catalunya will meet only two hours before the start of the parliamentary session on Thursday.
The key role of the king
Once the bureau of the Congress of Deputies has been formed, the king will receive the representatives of the various political parties one by one. Conversations which should allow the monarch to propose who, of the socialist Pedro Sanchez or the conservative Alberto Nunez Feijóo, will have the best chance of weaving a sufficient majority.
The first investiture session begins the countdown. The deputies have two months to elect a president of the government. If, at the end of these two months, all the investitures fail, Parliament will be dissolved and new elections will be called within forty-seven days. A situation that the country has already experienced in 2016 and 2019.