Spain’s parliament on Tuesday (Jan. 7) elected a government led by socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, ending several months of political gridlock triggered by two inconclusive elections last year, including one last November.
In November's election, Sanchez's Socialist Party (PSOE) won the most seats, but fell short of the 176 required for a majority in parliament.
Sanchez, 47, now won with an extremely tight simple majority-165 lower house legislators voted against the coalition and 167 voted in its favour. The remaining 18 members of the 350-seat parliament abstained.
This will be Spain’s first-ever coalition government in modern times since democracy was restored in 1978. It is a mash-up of the Socialist Party, led by Sanchez, who will remain prime minister, and Unidas Podemos – a far-left party that emerged out of an anti-austerity protest movement. The left-wing United We Can party will be a junior partner in the coalition.
The newly formed government has promised to raise minimum salaries, income tax for high earners and capital gains tax. It has also pledged to resolve the Catalan dispute through dialogue. Catalonia is a semi-autonomous region in north-east Spain.
Addressing MPs before the vote, Sanchez said such a coalition was "the only option" for Spain, after five elections in recent years. "Either a progressive coalition, or more deadlock for Spain," he warned them.
In a tweet sent after the vote, he wrote: “With the progressive coalition government, Spain is entering a time for the defence of dialogue and useful politics. A government for all people that broadens rights, restores co-existence and fights for social justice. Today is the dawn of a time of moderation, progress and hope.”
Sanchez has been caretaker prime minister since early last year. He is expected to sworn in Wednesday and hold his first Cabinet meeting of ministers Friday.
Spain is eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.
With reporting by news agencies