Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday slammed the country's right-wing political forces for refusing to accept July's election results.
In a heated parliamentary debate before an investiture vote, which Sanchez is anticipated to win on Thursday, the Spanish leader defended his negotiations with Catalan separatists as essential to countering the far-right.
His remarks come after tumultuous days in Spain, marked by massive protests, some turning violent, against his deal to grant amnesty to those involved in the Catalan independence movement.
“Let’s not be naive. The problem of the Popular Party and Vox isn’t amnesty, it is that they do not accept the result of the ballot boxes ... What the right wing does not want is for us to continue improving working conditions,” said Sanchez, saying Spain is fighting against the global “reactionary wave” that wants Spain to “go backward.”
In his address, he championed forgiveness and amnesty for Catalans, contrasting it with a previous hardline approach that, in his view, led to a “disaster” in 2017.
“Amnesty will not be an attack on Spain’s Constitution, but it will be a demonstration of its strength,” he argued, while also recognizing that the deal was necessary to form a viable government.
Conversely, the conservative Popular Party candidate Alberto Nunez Feijoo slammed Sanchez for “selling out Spain” to hold onto power and for polarizing the country.
“Making decisions against Spain’s interests in exchange for personal benefits is political corruption,” Feijoo said.
While his speech was not conciliary, Feijoo stopped short of saying amnesty is the “beginning of the end of Spanish democracy” or a “coup d’etat,” as other members of his party have claimed in recent weeks.
On the contrary, Santiago Abascal, leader of far-right party Vox, said Sanchez was attacking the unity of Spain, “which precedes and supersedes the Constitution we defend.”
“Tomorrow, the majority of lawmakers will destroy parliament’s authority, taking the first step towards a coup of the nation, the state and the Constitution and the end of democracy and the rule of law,” he said.
Comparing Sanchez to Hitler, he asserted that this government would be "more than illegitimate ... it will be illegal."
On Tuesday, Abascal petitioned the Supreme Court to halt the investiture vote, alleging that amnesty would violate the Constitution. The court dismissed this appeal on Wednesday.
Following statements from representatives of each political party in Spain’s parliament and a response from Sanchez, lawmakers will decide on endorsing his left-wing coalition government.
In securing the support of left-wing and regional parties, Sanchez seems poised to secure an absolute majority, enabling him to form a functioning government.
In September, Feijoo tried to form a government, but without the majority support of lawmakers, his bid was not successful.