Spanish parliament debates formation of left-wing government

AP , Saturday 4 Jan 2020

Spain's caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, left, applauds with members of the Socialist party during a parliamentary debate at the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo: AP)

Spain's lawmakers debated Saturday whether to approve interim Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's proposal to form a left-wing coalition government for the eurozone's fourth-largest economy.

Sanchez's Socialist Party wants to form a coalition with the far-left, anti-austerity United We Can party for his next government but needs support from several smaller parties to gain the required parliamentary approval.

His proposal is not expected to clinch an absolute majority of 176 votes during a first round of voting set for Sunday. Spain's three right-wing parties have already said their lawmakers would vote against it.

But the Socialists insist they have the votes needed to get the required simple majority _ more votes for than against _ in a second vote Tuesday to put Sanchez back in the Moncloa Palace, Spain's seat of government.

The Socialists have to rely on the goodwill of some 20 lawmakers who agreed to abstain. Those include the 13-deputy regional Catalan ERC party, one of several groups that want Catalonia's independence from Spain.

ERC's support may be in doubt after Spain's National Electoral Board ruled Friday that the party's imprisoned leader was ineligible to take a European Parliament seat he won in a European election last year.

Sanchez and United We Can leader Pablo Iglesias will now be waiting to see if ERC changes its position on abstaining from the votes.

Spain has been run by Sanchez's caretaker government for close to a year.

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