Spain far-right files no-confidence motion against govt
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez after winning a parliamentary vote confirming his new government on 7 January 2019.
Spain's parliament on Wednesday began debating a no-confidence motion filed by the far-right Vox against the leftwing coalition government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
The motion, the fifth since Spain returned to democracy in 1976, has no chance of passing given that Vox has only 52 seats in the 350-seat chamber and the move has almost no political support.
But it has put pressure on the rightwing opposition Popular Party (PP), which must choose whether to vote against the motion and maintain its distance from the far-right or to abstain to keep the peace with Vox's electorate.
Introducing the two-day debate during Wednesday's parliamentary session, Vox MP Ignacio Garriga accused Sanchez of representing "lies and fraud", stressing the need to call new elections. "This government is responsible for the worst management of the pandemic in the world," he said, accusing Sanchez of hiding the real date that "the Chinese virus" arrived in the country.
Spain has been badly hit by the pandemic, which has claimed more than 34,000 lives and infected nearly one million people -- the highest number in the European Union.
Founded in 2014 by Santiago Abascal, Vox has steadily bled support from the PP, leaving the party in a tricky position. The last time MPs debated a no-confidence motion was in June 2018, in a move put forward by the Socialist party on the back of a huge corruption scandal that brought down the government of PP prime minister Mariano Rajoy.
The no-confidence motion won the backing of the hard-left Podemos party, along with Basque and Catalan separatist factions, allowing Sanchez to take over as head of government. Since January, Sanchez has been at the head of a leftwing coalition comprising his Socialists and Podemos, which commands a minority of 155 mandates in parliament.