PABLO Sanchez’s first bid to be installed as Spain’s prime minister has failed in a highly-charged investiture debate.

Following Sanchez’s successful election win in November last year, Spain’s caretaker PM still needed a 176-majority in the 350-strong congress.

In the end, 166 deputies voted in favor (PSOE, Unidas Podemos, Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), Más País, Compromís, Nueva Canarias, Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG) and Teruel Existe), 165 against (Popular Party (PP), Vox, Ciudadanos, Together for Catalonia, Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), Navarra Suma, Coalición Canaria, Foro Asturias and the Regionalist Party of Catalonia (PRC)), with 18 abstentions (ERC and EH Bildu).

At a second vote on Tuesday, however, he is expected to win the poll, given that a simple majority of more yes votes than no is required.

Sanchez’s chances have been bolstered by the abstention of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) thanks to a deal covering the future approach by the central government to the issue of Catalan independence.

The future coalition government will expect fierce opposition from other parties in Congress due to this approach, however.

The leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, yesterday accused Sánchez of destroying national sovereignty thanks to his agreement with the ERC.

Never before had the ‘defence of the homeland’ been such a topic of debate in Congress – an issue also taken up by far-right Vox and center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens).

The debate was thrown into turmoil this morning when speaker for the Baque EH Bildu party faced chants of ‘murderers’ and ‘long live the King’ from Vox, PP and Ciudadanos.

Sánchez, however, insisted that the predictions of these right-wing parties would not come to pass. “Spain is not going to break up and the Constitution will not be violated,” he told the assembled deputies. “What is going to be broken is the blocking of the progressive government that was voted for democratically by Spaniards.”

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