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Pedro Sánchez Swears in as Prime Minister of Spain

Pedro Sánchez was sworn in as Spain’s new Prime Minister on June 01, 2018. This remarkable personal comeback has settled a week of political upheaval that culminated in the first removal of an incumbent leader by Parliament in modern Spanish history. The New York Times writes aptly, “Little more than a year ago, Mr. Sánchez, 46, seemed lost in the political wilderness, deposed as the leader of the Socialist party after two record electoral defeats. And the man he has now replaced, Mariano Rajoy, 63, was seen as the great survivor of Spanish politics, one of Europe’s longest-serving heads of government. But Mr. Sánchez was unexpectedly re-elected as Socialist leader seven months after his ousting. Then, when Mr. Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party was tarnished by corruption — a court last week found the party guilty of operating a slush fund — he pounced, assembling parliamentary backing for a vote of no confidence in Mr. Rajoy, which passed on June 01.”

Background

His tenure may be short. The Socialist party holds just under a quarter of the seats in Parliament. Like the vote against Mr. Rajoy, his government will rely on support from the far-left Podemos party and nationalists from Catalonia and the Basque region. An economist by training and politician by occupation, he is also Secretary-General of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), holding office for the second time after winning a leadership election June 2017. He is without a seat in the Congress of Deputies. He served as town councillor in the City Council of Madrid from 2004 to 2009. In 2009, he was first elected Deputy in the Congress. In 2014, he became Secretary-General of the PSOE, and he was the party’s candidate for prime minister in the 2015 and 2016 general elections. During his first term as Secretary-General, he was heavily opposed to the re-election of Rajoy as Prime Minister. Rajoy needed the abstention of the PSOE in the Congress of Deputies in order to secure a parliamentary majority. Tensions grew within the party to allow Rajoy to form a government; due to its opposition by Sánchez, he stepped down as Secretary-General on 1 October 2016. He simultaneously resigned as Deputy, and a caretaker committee took over the PSOE leadership. He would eventually win the party primaries, defeating Susana Díaz and Patxi López, and was reinstated Secretary-General in June 2017. Under his tenure, the PSOE backed the Government of Spain in its handling of the Catalan independence referendum and the subsquent constitutional crisis.

On 31 May 2018 the PSOE filed a no-confidence motion, which passed with the support of the PSOE, Unidos Podemos, and Basque, Valencian and Catalan regionalist and nationalist parties. On 1 June 2018, a Royal Decree named Pedro Sánchez Prime Minister of Spain. On the following day, he was officially sworn into the office before King Felipe VI.

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