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Spanish People's Party supporters rally against Catalan amnesty bill

Supporters of Spain's mainstream conservative Popular Party rally
Supporters of Spain's mainstream conservative Popular Party rally Copyright Jeff Moore/AP
Copyright Jeff Moore/AP
By Euronews with AP
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The show of force followed repeated calls from party representatives for disaffected Socialists to support Feijóo's investiture to impede Sánchez from striking a deal with the separatists.

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On Sunday, 40,000 people according to the central government and up to 60,000 according to the Popular Party joined a protest and rally in Madrid against a possible amnesty for Catalonian secessionists.

Conservative People's Party expected to lose investiture

The leader of Spain’s conservatives, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, will have his opportunity to form a new government this week in what has been preordained as a lost cause given his lack of support in Parliament.

Feijóo's Popular Party won the most votes in the inconclusive July 23 national elections that left all parties well shy of an absolute majority and with a difficult path to reaching power.

If Feijóo flops in his attempt as expected, then acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez would get his shot to stay in the Moncloa Palace if he can round up the support of a motley crew of leftist, regionalist and even separatist parties.

Here is what you need to know about Feijóo's investiture bid that begins with his parliamentary speech on Tuesday.

The president of the Popular Party, Spain’s traditional centre-right force, will have two chances to become the next prime minister of the European Union’s fourth-largest economy. But barring a surprise, he will fall short in the vote by fellow lawmakers on both days.

On Wednesday, following 24 hours of parliamentary debate, Feijóo would need to win an outright majority of 176 votes of the 350-seat lower chamber based in Madrid.

If he misses that mark; on Friday the bar would be lowered and the candidate would only need more “Yes” than “No” votes. That scenario would open the possibility of votes to abstain tilting the balance in his favor.

The Popular Party's 137 seats are the most held by any party. But even with the 33 votes of the far-right Vox party, and two more from small, conservative parties from Navarra and the Canary Islands, it is still four votes short.

Feijóo’s chances appear to hinge on abstentions to the vote, which would come as a surprise.

A loss for Feijóo would automatically start a two-month period during which other candidates can step forward to seek Parliament's endorsement to form a new government. If no candidate can pass the test, then the Parliament will be dissolved on November 27th and elections called on January 14th 2024.

A victory for Pedro Sánchez: not a foregone conclusion

Sánchez and his allies have already taken it for granted that Feijóo will lose and are working on gathering the support required to repeat their left-wing coalition of Socialists and the left-wing Sumar party.

The price, however, will be costly. Sánchez would also depend on the backing of the Catalan separatist party Junts, whose leader, Carles Puigdemont, is a fugitive from Spanish law residing in Brussels, where he holds a European Parliament seat.

Puigdemont fled Spain in 2017 after leading a failed independence push for Catalonia. Even though support for separatist parties waned in the July elections while it grew for unionist parties led by the Socialists in Catalonia, Puigdemont now has the power to be kingmaker thanks to Junts' seven seats in the national parliament.

His demand is nothing less than an amnesty for an unspecified number, which could reach a few thousand people, of Catalans who face legal trouble for their roles in the separatist bid six years ago.

An amnesty would be unpopular for many Spaniards, especially since Puigdemont and many of his followers were unrepentant for almost breaking up the country.

While no Socialist has spoken publicly about an amnesty, Sánchez has pardoned high-profile leaders of the movement in the past and appears willing to consider an even bigger act of grace to — as he says — “normalise” politics in northeast Catalonia.

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