Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist party wrested power from the Conservatives

Mariano Rajoy, the outgoing Spanish Prime Minister, was succeeded by Pedro Sanchez on June 2. Rajoy lost the no-confidence vote in Spanish Parliament and thus forced to step down. The former Spanish PM was accused of abetting corruption in his party.

The newly minted Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, is an economist. He has surprisingly no experience in governance. The 46-year-old took his oath of office from King Felipe VI at Zarzuela Palace. His oath taking was different from his predecessors as he made it without the presence of a crucifix or Bible. He pledged his honor and conscience to faithfully fulfill all his Prime Ministerial duties with loyalty to the Spanish king. He also vowed to enforce the Spanish Constitution as fundamental state rule. His oath was the same as other Spanish Prime Ministers but with seemingly minor yet major differences. The PM switched the word "swear" for “promise.” The words "honor" and "conscience" were brought in-lieu of words describing obeisance to a deity.

For political observers, Sanchez's ascension to the Prime Minister position was nothing short of a miracle. His Socialist party failed miserably at the hustings for two years, 2015 and 2016. His own party comrades booted him out before again bringing him in to head the primaries in May 2017. The Socialists then too could not make their mark, being shoved out by Rajoy's Popular Party, Podemos, and the center-right Ciudadanos. The Socialists finally tasted victory when they submitted a motion of no-confidence against Rajoy, only a day after a court found former PP officials guilty of receiving bribes. Money exchanged hands for public contracts which were later found to be a substantial graft scheme from 1999 to 2005.

Sanchez's work has just begun. He has to name his cabinet. His chosen ministers must have their names published in the Spanish government official journal before the government can start its duties. His 84 member party holds minority strength in a 350-seat Spanish Parliament. His government is held up by multiple party pillars ranging from leftist ones to Catalan separatists. The new head of state has already stated his principal aim: respect the deficit reduction commitments made by Madrid to the European Union.

Sanchez's political routing of Rajoy, the politically savvy and charismatic leader of the Popular Party, comes at a time when European politics are in flux. The European Union suffered substantial structural instability after Italians voted in an anti-establishment and vitriolic eurosceptic government.

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