Socialist Pedro Sanchez took center stage in the Spanish Parliament to unveil his new government and the offspring of an agreement with the extreme left in Sumar, along with various independence groups such as Junts and autonomist-separatists like Basque. The linchpin of this accord is an amnesty for Catalans involved in the 2017 independence referendum, a move that has left a sour taste in the mouths of many, both on the home front and in foreign affairs, especially given Sanchez’s pro-Palestinian stance.
In a display of political theatrics, Sanchez used his fourth investiture speech to unleash a tirade against the Popular Party (PP) and Vox, reserving his criticism for the latter part of his address to touch on the recently passed amnesty law by the PSOE. According to him, this law is ‘legal’ and in line with the Constitution, while simultaneously lambasting right-wing formations, particularly blaming the PP for the Catalonia events in 2017. Sanchez went as far as accusing the ‘right-wing reactionaries’ of using legal proceedings as a mere excuse to impede the ‘progress’ promised by the new PSOE and Sumar coalition.
The impending swearing-in of the candidate comes with a laundry list of concessions to independence groups, including amnesty for figures like Carles Puigdemont and those involved in the ‘procés,’ as well as those responsible for violence in Catalonia in 2019. Finger-pointing and accusations against Alberto Núñez Feijóo followed, accusing him of joining the ‘reactionary club of Trump, Le Pen, and Abascal’ after the May elections.
Sanchez’s speech didn’t stop at political opponents; it delved into a litany of accusations, from climate change denial to alleged desires for outdated gender roles and questionable immigration policies, all aimed at the opposition. Even the color-changing bicycle lanes after the May elections found their way into the discourse. The socialist candidate, not one to shy away from controversy, asserted that ‘the only equality in danger is that of women because of the PP’s agreements with Vox.’
In response to the tumult, Sanchez doubled down on his commitments – raising the Minimum Interprofessional Wage, creating a new statute for workers, and extending VAT reduction on services like free public transport for minors. However, he acknowledged the necessity of dealing with ‘the coordination of the autonomous communities,’ most of which are under right-wing governance.
A belated address on the amnesty issue, lacking specifics on agreements with the ERC and Brussels regarding Puigdemont, was couched in terms of Spain’s interest. Sanchez, after months of denial, staunchly defended the amnesty, calling it constitutional. He acknowledged citizens in Catalonia and the Basque Country who feel detached from Spain, presenting two approaches – the ‘way of imposition and social tension’ by the right, and their way, ‘the way of dialogue, forgiveness, and understanding.’
Sanchez’s initial engagement, a tribute to his future partner in government, Sumar, segued into a global overview of war conflicts, with a spotlight on the Middle East. His ‘determination’ for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza clashed with his condemnation of Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel, emphasizing justice while decrying indiscriminate killing of Palestinians.
Backing an ‘urgent’ peace conference for the recognition of a Palestinian state, Sanchez declared his ‘first commitment in this legislature will be to work for the recognition of the Palestinian state’ in Europe and Spain.
The first part of Sanchez’s speech was divisive and almost offensive, setting the stage for a government that appears to lack a soul, sacrificing unity for the pursuit of power. The Sanchez government, characterized as an ode to cynicism, reflects the tumultuous landscape of contemporary Europe. Whether he’ll ever secure the support of the PP remains uncertain, as his aggressive approach might require more than just political finesse – perhaps a touch of political humility. The political stage is set, and the drama continues