Follow the voting of the Congress Table liveOne of the emblematic lions that are in front of the facade of the Congress of Deputies in the Plaza de las Cortes in Madrid. (Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press)
PSOE and PP, the two main parties, face the constitution of the Congress Table with uncertainty a few hours before their lordships decide on the new governing body of the Lower House. At this point, none of these parties has a tied majority, although they have been able to probe the predisposition of the majority of the groups. Although, this election is left to the gamble of what Junts decides, whose Executive meets electronically at dawn, before the constitutive session scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m.
The only thing that is crystal clear is that it will be a woman who will replace Meritxell Batet at the helm of this institution in the XV legislature, which begins this Thursday. Francina Armengol, for the PSOE, or Cuca Gamarra, for the PP, are fighting to become the third institution of the State. Beyond this question, the distribution of the rest of the posts on the Board is up in the air: four vice-presidencies and four secretaries. All in all, this Thursday’s selection will clear up the question of whether there will be a progressive or right-wing majority in a body that sets the pace of the legislature and makes decisions as far-reaching as admitting or not legislative initiatives for discussion.
Within the block favorable to the proposal of those of Pedro Sánchez, whose profile can be read as a nod to the nationalist and pro-independence parties, the PSOE itself (121 deputies), Sumar (31), ERC (7), EH Bildu (6 ), PNV (5) and BNG (1). On the right, those of Alberto Núñez Feijóo would have tied their 137 deputies, the 33 of Vox and the representative of UPN. According to these numbers, there would be a tie at 171 votes.
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Within the framework of these cabals, there is room for another variable. And it is that, in the event that the seven deputies of Junts abstain, the vote of the only deputy of the Canary Coalition, Cristina Valido, could be decisive for the election of the Presidency of Congress. Everything is up in the air a few hours before the first litmus test of the legislature. Its development will set the course for the following weeks and, therefore, for governance itself.
PSOE and Sumar sources acknowledge that they do not know what can happen. Of course, the optimism in these ranks is more remarkable than within the popular group. These voices point out that a favorable decision by Junts for the socialist candidate does not presuppose eventual support in a future investiture by Pedro Sánchez. “They are two different negotiations”, as the socialist group insists on emphasizing.
However, the former president of the Generalitat and founder of Junts, Carles Puigdemont, asked this Wednesday for “verifiable facts before committing any vote” to support the Table or an investiture of the PSOE leader. In any case, the acting second vice president and leader of Sumar, Yolanda Díaz, who confirmed that she is negotiating “at the highest level” with this and other formations, framed said statements in the “logic of negotiation.”
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In the PSOE, they trust that Junts would have “more to gain” with a socialist Presidency and “much to lose” if it is Cuca Gamarra who finally wins this battle. For now, the PSOE has shown its predisposition for Junts and ERC to have their own group despite not meeting the requirements (having at least 15 seats, or exceeding five deputies and obtaining 15% in all constituencies in which that is concurred, or 5% of the votes in the whole country).
The former president of the Generalitat and founder of Junts, Carles Puigdemont, during a plenary session in the European Parliament. (Benoit Doppagne/Europa Press)
However, both have more than five seats and are close to the 15% barrier, so a progressive majority in the Congress Table, as has been done on other occasions, could forgive these few tenths or even allow the loan of deputies from other groups. It should be remembered that having your own parliamentary group implies more economic and political resources: greater representation in plenary sessions, more room to carry out initiatives and double subsidy.
On the other hand, the President of the Government wanted to wink at the minority parties by promising to promote the use of co-official languages in community institutions “as a commitment that I will deploy throughout the Spanish presidency of the EU”.
In the PSOE they maintain that, if they are able to assemble a necessary majority this Thursday, they would move on to a second phase, that of negotiating the investiture of Sánchez. The Socialist General Secretary himself, in a speech before his own in Congress, asked the PP to “accept” the rules of the Spanish parliamentary system, “something as basic and legitimate as that whoever has the most support governs in Spain.” “We are going to ask those who boast of constitutionalism to respect Article 99 of the Constitution. This is not the time to put pressure on the head of state or magic cabals; It is time for parliamentary democracy”.
For his part, Feijóo, who made his debut in Congress at an interparliamentary meeting in which he proposed the general secretary of the PP to preside over the governing body of Congress, claimed his right to attempt an investiture. “I am responsible for trying and I think it is our duty,” he said before the popular deputies and senators. The decision to propose the candidate for the investiture is in the hands of the head of state, but what happens this Thursday will almost certainly set the pace.
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