In Brief

Spain led by a coalition for the first time in 80 years

Pedro Sanchez has agreed historic deal with anti-austerity group

Spain will be led by a coalition government for the first time in 80 years after the acting prime minister narrowly won a confidence vote in parliament, which opened to the door to him governing with an anti-austerity alliance group.

Yesterday’s vote, which Pedro Sanchez won by 167 votes to 165, with 18 abstentions, ends the nine months of political deadlock resulting from two inconclusive general elections last year.

Sanchez will form a minority government after the vote, described as “dramatic” by the BBC, went 167 to 165 in his favour. Abstentions by Catalan and Basque MPs were crucial to the outcome.

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ party, which finished first in both elections last year but short of a majority, has agreed a governing pact with Unidas Podemos.

The main measures agreed between the allies are centred on tax hikes for high-earners and big companies, Reuters says. Others are believed to include a rise in the minimum wage, labour reform, deficit and debt reduction, and the prohibition of prostitution.

Sanchez is expected to be sworn in and appoint his cabinet as early as next Wednesday. However, pundits are already expecting further unrest in the country, predicting that the coalition will threaten Spain’s unity and ultimately fuel rightwing nationalism.

The Times reports that the head of the main opposition centre-right Popular Party, Pablo Casado, called Sanchez a “sociopath” and accused him of forming a “Frankenstein government” made up of “communists” and “separatists” who “want to put an end to Spain”.

Spain, which is the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy has been in political deadlock without a fully functioning government for most of the last 12 months.

Difficult issues which will be immediately facing his government include the question of Catalan independence.

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