King Felipe VI closes this Tuesday at the Palacio de la Zarzuela his round of consultations for the appointment of a candidate for the investiture. The head of state will receive the leaders of Vox, Santiago Abascal, of the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez, and the winner of the elections, Alberto Núñez Feijóo.
The King will resume the hearings at 10:30 a.m. and the first to attend will be Santiago Abascal, representing the 33 deputies of the formation. The party has already offered its free support to the ‘popular’ candidate, but the PP’s decision not to give them votes to enter the Congress Table has cooled relations between the two. Vox must clarify to the King whether or not he maintains his support. At 12:00 noon it will be the turn of the acting President of the Government and General Secretary of the PSOE and, in the afternoon, at 4:00 p.m., the leader of the PP will attend as the candidate with the most votes and the most seats.
These are the two applicants who are prepared to pick up the commission for the investiture debate. Alberto Núñez Feijóo, as the winner of the July 23 elections and with 171 tied votes (PP, Vox and UPN), and Pedro Sánchez, who sees himself capable of weaving alliances to overcome the vote, as he already achieved on Thursday to win the majority in the Table of Congress.
Article 99 of the Constitution establishes that, “after each renewal of the Congress of Deputies, the King, after consultation with the representatives designated by the political groups with parliamentary representation, and through the president of the Congress, will propose a candidate for the Presidency of the government”.
Therefore, the Magna Carta does not determine that the winner of the elections should be a candidate, it simply states that whoever achieves the confidence of Congress will be sworn in as president, either in a first vote with an absolute majority or in a second with more votes in favor than against.
Congress chooses, but the King proposes
Therefore, it is Congress who chooses the new Prime Minister, but it is the King who decides who will submit to the investiture debate. Until now, the decision was simple and there was only one candidate on the table, the one with the most votes in the elections, and another thing is that later his candidacy prospered or not in the vote in Congress.
Only once, in January 2016, did the winner of the elections inform the king that he had resigned as a candidate, considering that he did not have enough votes: Mariano Rajoy. This forced the head of state to organize a second round of consultations and end up giving the opportunity to whoever came second, Pedro Sánchez, who did not force himself to be sworn in. Given the indeterminacy, this round of consultations is especially relevant, but four of the parties that Pedro Sánchez has have been deleted from the list and have not gone to Zarzuela to inform him of his plans.
These are the independentistas of Esquerra Republica (ERC), Bildu and Junts, as well as the nationalists of the BNG, parties that do not recognize the political authority of the Head of State and that, in the case of the Catalan formations, maintain a boycott of Felipe VI since his speech after the illegal referendum on October 1, 2017.
This ninth round of consultations that Felipe VI has been holding since his proclamation began on Monday with the president of the Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN), Javier Esparza, and with the deputy of the Canary Islands Coalition (CC), Cristina Valido. Both transfer to the King their willingness to support Feijóo, but Valido did not close the door to a hypothetical support for Sánchez if he assumes the Canarian agenda.
In the afternoon, the PNV spokesman in Congress, Aitor Esteban, also attended the meeting and informed the monarch of his refusal to support the “popular” candidate and that, in his opinion, it is premature to talk about the votes of his party in an inauguration of Sánchez. For her part, the second vice president and leader of Sumar, Yolanda Díaz, had already made clear her support for Pedro Sánchez, with whom she already shares a government.
The countdown begins
With the information that the political representatives have transmitted to him in the round of consultations, the King will once again call the president of Congress, Francina Armengol, to Zarzuela, to communicate his decision, the name of the candidate he proposes to submit to the investiture debate.
From there, the countdown will begin to organize the investiture debate, although it cannot be before August 28, which is when the Congress Table will certify the list of parliamentary groups of the XV Legislature, a process on which ERC and Junts, which do not meet the requirements established by the Regulation for its formalization.
In the event of a political deadlock, the date of the first vote of the investiture debate is key, since it will determine the day that a new general election will be held. Specifically, if the first failed inauguration is voted on August 30, an eventual repetition of the elections would take place on December 17, but if it is delayed, it would be time to vote at Christmas if in the end two months go by without anyone being elected president.