By Linda Hall •
Published: 28 Sep 2023 • 10:34
OSCAR PUENTE: Described by his critics as Pedro Sanchez’s attack dog
Photo credit: Ayuntamiento de Valladolid
IT looks as though Alberto Nuñez Feijoo is unlikely to be the next president of the Spanish government.
As predicted, when his fellow MPs in the Madrid parliament voted for or against him on September 27, only 172 people said Si instead of the 176 required for an overall majority.
It is equally unlikely that he will obtain a simple majority on September 29 when all he needs are more MPs saying Si than No.
Not unless the Catalan secessionist party Junts per Catalunya changes its mind at the last moment or the Partido Nacionalista Vasco (PNV), which has propped up past Partido Popular governments, does so again.
This is improbable, as the Basque nationalist party has made it clear that the PP would have to forego its 33 guaranteed votes from Vox MPs if it wanted the PNV’s five.
As was to be expected, there was prolonged PP and Vox applause for Feijoo’s opening speech and his replies to the opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the PSOE socialists sprung a surprise on followers and critics when Feijoo’s rival, Pedro Sanchez, failed to utter a single word.
Instead, Oscar Puente, mayor of Valladolid until the May 28 elections and now an MP in the national parliament, replied on behalf of the incumbent government.
Sanchez, PSOE sources said, is saving himself up for his own investiture bid in October. The less-charitable also observed that this saved him the embarrassment of having to pronounce the words “amnesty” or “referendum.”
Puente backed Sanchez during the time when he was temporarily ousted as the PSOE’s secretary general in October 2016 and, as has been noted before, the incumbent and would-be president has not forgotten those who stood by him.
Puente referred to both Feijoo and himself as “winners”, alluding to the former’s claim that he was in the best position to form a government because the PP was the most-voted party.
Puente pointed out that the PSOE was Valladolid’s most-voted party in last May’s municipal elections and he would have returned to Valladolid city hall, had he not been prevented by a PP-Vox alliance.
This set the tone for Puente’s 30-minute speech which was repeatedly interrupted by cheers from his own party and jeers from the PP.
Puente is now being compared to Alfonso Guerra who, as vice-president, often took the rap during Felipe Gonzalez’s presidencies. All the same, Puente’s whipping boy role did not prevent the PP and Vox benches from stamping their feet and calling Sanchez a coward, chorusing “Cobarde, cobarde, cobarde.”
This prompted Speaker Francina Armengol to declare that they were not in a school playground and that she would not tolerate insults inside the chamber.
Thankfully, there was a moment of light relief during the vote when white-bearded Herminio Rufino Sancho Iñiguez, a PSOE MP for Teruel, answered Si when his name was called.
In fact he was not supporting Feijoo but was trying to correct Isaura Leal, an MP for the PSOE and a member of the Speaker’s tribune, who mispronounced his first surname as Sanchez.
“Sancho si, Sanchez no,” he mumbled, as the chamber erupted when it looked as though Sancho Iñiguez had scored an own goal.
He was allowed to rectify, the roll call continued, Feijoo was not invested, and the MPs look forward to another session on September 29 when, barring surprises, Feijoo will again lose the vote.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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