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Sanchez secures backing for Socialist speaker in first post-election Congress vote

Pedro Sánchez’s hopes of securing another term as Spain’s prime minister were given a boost on Thursday after the PSOE secured the support of Catalan nationalists to help win the first key parliamentary vote since last month’s inconclusive general election.

Spain's lower house of parliament, the Congress, elected Socialist Francina Armengol, 52, as its speaker with the backing of other parties whose votes will be needed to form a Socialist-led coalition government.

All of the left and all the Catalan, Basque, and Galician nationalist groups supported Ms Armengol, who was the president of the Balearic Islands until May.

The support included backing from Junts per Catalunya, whose votes would be vital in any coalition government led by Mr Sanchez.

Ms Armengol received 178 votes, two more than the absolute majority of the parliamentary chamber, compared to 139 for Cuca Gamarra, the PP candidate, and 33 for Ignacio Gil Lázaro from Vox.

Vox withdrew support for the PP candidate after the PP said it would not cede any posts on the Congress oversight board, which is led by speaker with representation from other parties.

The agreement on the Socialist speaker does not automatically imply backing for a Sánchez-led government.

But the outcome of Thursday’s vote fuelled expectation that Mr Sanchez could yet stitch together a coalition to back him for prime minister.

Mr Sanchez, who first took power in 2018, has ruled since early 2020 thanks to a minority coalition with the far-left Podemos party, which merged with other groups into a new alliance called Sumar.

The conservative PP won more seats than the Socialists in July but did not secure an outright majority and seems to lack sufficient support to form a government.

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