Millennium Post

Pedro Sanchez sworn in as PM as Spain gets first coalition

Madrid: Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday was sworn in as the country's prime minister a day after his proposed coalition with a left-wing party narrowly slipped through a vote in Parliament.

Sanchez decided to forgo religious symbolism and took oath over the Constitution on the presence of King Felipe VI, the head of state. It is the second time in less than two years that the socialist leader has been sworn-in as prime minister, Efe news reported.

After the brief ceremony, the king joked that the process had been "quick, simple and painless," adding: "the pain comes later." It prompted a laugh from Sanchez.

Lawmakers backed the PSOE's proposed coalition government with Unidas Podemos ("United We Can") 167-165 on Tuesday, bringing an end to eight months of political stalemate in the chamber on the back of two inconclusive general elections.

However, the pact required the abstention of two separatist parties, the Catalan ERC and the Basque EH-Bildu, an arrangement that ired the countries main right-wing opposition parties.

While the road ahead may be bumpy for the new government, given they must uphold promises to the parties that reluctantly abstained, Tuesday's session marked a historic day for Spain as it approved its first coalition since it returned to democracy in 1978, three years after the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

The last time the country had a coalition was in 1930 during the Spanish Second Republic.

Sanchez said he would reveal the new cabinet in the coming week.

He first became PM in June 2018 and led a minority government but was forced to call a snap election for April the following year when he failed to pass the State Budget.

The PSOE emerged the largest party in that vote but fell short of a majority.

As acting PM A repeat general election in November failed to overturn the hung parliament but saw a meteoric rise in the far-right, which prompted Sanchez to sidle up to Pablo Iglesias, the leftist leader of Podemos.

They have pledged to raise income taxes for those who earn more than 130,000 euros a year, hike the minimum wage, which sits at around 1,050 euros a month, and raise corporate taxes.

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