Spain’s acting Prime Minister and candidate for re-election, Mariano Rajoy, will try to gain the confidence of the Lower House of Parliament on Saturday, 29 October, after failing to receive the support, by absolute majority, of the Lower House in the first round of voting, as required under Article 99 of the Spanish Constitution. The result was 170 votes in favor and 180 against.
In the second day of the investiture session, Rajoy, responded to the speeches made by the spokespersons for the different parliamentary groups with representation in the Lower House. He called for responsibility from all of them. “There are 350 of us and everyone has their own responsibility, some more than others perhaps, but we are all under an obligation to look to the general interest because, if not, Spain will not have a government capable of taking decisions in the general interest of the people of Spain”.
In response to the spokesperson for the PSOE in the Lower House, Antonio Hernando, Rajoy announced that he will tackle the suspension of the academic effects of the final evaluations of Compulsory Secondary Education (Spanish acronym: ESO) and advanced secondary education (Bachillerato) as provided for in the Education Act (Spanish acronym: LOMCE) until such time as the State Education Pact, proposed on Wednesday, is concluded. Meanwhile, the final Bachillerato evaluation “will not be necessary to obtain the title and will only be applicable in order to gain a place at university”, he asserted
As regards employment, Mariano Rajoy reiterated in his response to Grupo Confederal de Unidos Podemos-En Comu Podem-En Marea that this is, together with economic growth, the main goal of the legislature.
In this regard, in his response to the President of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, Rajoy argued that certain figures “tend to be optimistic”, in reference to the Labour Force Survey published on Thursday, which stated that there are almost 2 million fewer unemployed than at the worst point of the crisis. He also thanked this parliamentary group for its support in forming a government because “there are decisions that cannot wait”, although he advised him that not “all the reforms of the last legislature should be repealed” or that we should start to repeal laws “that are useful”, although “reasonable changes may be made”´.
In his response to the spokesperson for ERC in the Lower House, Joan Tardá, Mariano Rajoy pointed out that Catalonia is “plural, diverse, thriving and open”, but that some pro-independence leaders seek to present it as a “belittled society in confrontation with the rest of the people of Spain where the monolithic sentiment of pro-independence prevails”. According to Mariano Rajoy, that is “far from the reality”, because “a sizeable majority of Catalans” are not pro-independence. He also asked Joan Tardá to uphold the law and to display “a minimum degree of interest in reaching an understanding on such an important issue for everyone”.
On another note, Mariano Rajoy said that he will do everything necessary to ensure that the PNV [Basque Nationalist Party] is involved in governing Spain. To this end, he reminded the spokesperson for the PNV, Aitor Esteban, that the PP and the PNV formed a coalition in 1996 under which they did “positive, sensible and reasonable things”.
The candidate for re-election argued that his economic policy has been “positive for the Basque Country” and that State investments made in this region amount to some 2 billion euros. He reviewed the aid to the industrial, maritime and aeronautics sectors, and stressed that the government’s fisheries policy received more funding for the fleet than in the previous term of office. He also asserted that the ‘Y vasca’ will be completed by 2019 and said that he is in favour of the historical privileges under the ‘foral’ system and has always supported the economic agreement and quota system.
Responses to the Joint Group
The candidate reiterated, in his response to Francesc Homs, from the PdC, that he has tried to talk with the Regional Government of Catalonia and will continue to do so in the next legislature. He added that this dialogue requires “a little flexibility” from the other party, since the opposite would be an “imposition”, which would be unacceptable. He also stressed that the government has dealt with all the debt maturities of the Regional Government of Catalonia and has paid its suppliers “because this was our obligation and, furthermore, because we wanted to do so”.
He reminded Joan Baldoví, from Compromís, of the effort made by the government in the Region of Valencia through the liquidity measures provided in order to attend to key public services, the implementation of major infrastructure works, and investments in the Mediterranean Corridor and high-speed railway.
In response to the speech from Marian Beitialarrangoitia, of EH-Bildu, Mariano Rajoy invited her to sign the petition for the dissolution of ETA [terrorist organisation] in order to help contribute to the disappearance of the terrorist gang.
Rajoy thanked Íñigo Alli, of the UPN, for the support for his investiture and said that he shares his backing for the Navarre Canal and high-speed railway. He also condemned the attack on the Guardia Civil in the town of Alsasua in Navarre. The authors of this attack, he underlined “will not go unpunished and the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on them as is right under the rule of law”
Mariano Rajoy also thanked Isidro Martínez Oblanca, of Foro Asturias, for his vote in favour of his candidature, and assured him that he was aware of the problems in this region in terms of economic growth and job creation. The acting President of the Government said that his commitment to high-speed connections in Asturias “is not in any doubt”.
After thanking Ana Oramas, of the Canary Islands Coalition, for her support by voting for him for the investiture, Mariano Rajoy announced that the economic part of the Canary Islands Economic and Fiscal Regime will shortly be brought before this House. He also remarked that, within the agenda for the Canary Islands agreed with this formation, employment and renewable energies will be priorities for his government,
Mariano Rajoy insisted on the need to make a major effort in the area of employment in the islands in his response to Pedro Quevedo, of the Nueva Canarias party.
Commitment, stability, dialogue and agreement
Following the speech by the spokesperson for the PP, Rafael Hernando, Mariano Rajoy closed off the round of responses by thanking his own parliamentary group, which has found a way to “maintain the basic pillars of the Welfare State against such a tremendously complicated backdrop”.
The candidate for re-election stressed that a new political era is commencing in which “commitment, stability, dialogue and agreement” are key words. “I will do whatever is in my hands and I ask you all to help me. Whilst the chip must be changed, the basics have to remain the same. We have signed agreements, we must uphold them, but we will need to sign more of them”, he concluded.
Outcome of the voting
At the end of the debate, the first round of voting of the investiture session was held, with a result of 170 votes in favour and 180 votes against. Since the candidate did not receive an absolute majority of votes cast in the House, he will stand for a second round of voting after 48 hours have elapsed, in which he will be invested if he wins by a simple majority, in other words, with more votes in favour than against.
The Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Ana Pastor, has called a plenary session of the Lower House for the investiture debate on Saturday, 29 October, at 6:30 pm. Voting will not take place before 7:45 pm.