The Parliamentary Calendar marks the end of summer and autumn of distress and uncertainty. The numbers at this time work towards some majority in the House of Representatives, but there are other unresolved issues that require political engineering. The first date set is the Constitution of the Cortes, on August 17. It is the starting signal for the legislature because on that day the combination of tables is chosen and the members of parliament swear or abide by the constitution.
The focus is on the House of Representatives, where the first agreements to form a majority can be seen. PSOE, Sumar, ERC, EH Bildu, PNV and BNG all hold the numbers for a socialist candidate to preside over Congress again in the next legislature and to dominate the nine-member table with a majority of five representatives compared to four. If PP and Vox do not agree, as they did in 2019, the majority could be six members on the left and three on the right. The People’s Party has absolute control of the Senate.
The August 17 Congressional Mass is assessed, first, in Articles 2 and 3 of the regulations. The founding session will be chaired by the oldest deputy – in 2019 it was Agustín Zamarino, of the Socialist Workers’ Party, who has not repeated himself on the lists – and the younger ones will act as secretaries. Article 37 of the Regulations, for its part, includes that the election of the President of Congress requires an absolute majority in the first vote. And if no one gets it, “the election will be repeated among the deputies who received the two highest votes, and whoever gets the most votes will be elected.” Vice-Presidents and Secretaries shall be elected simultaneously: whoever receives the greatest number of votes shall be elected in successive order.
If there is an inauguration vote in September, there will be until November to avoid another election
The next date to follow is the week commencing August 21, when the monarch was formed, once the Cortes were formed, A round of consultations could begin to find out the availability of either Sanchez or Figo to face the installation. Neither of them has the numbers to make it happen today. Feijóo contacted Vox, PNV, CC and UPN yesterday. The prime minister, for his part, intends to take vacations until mid-August. Don’t rush.
In the same week commencing on the 21st, Congress will be forced to close the formation of parliamentary groups, at the price of the five days following the formation of the House. The limit of owning your own group, which entails greater financial resources, staff and public visibility, is not exceeded at this time by the ERC or Junts, since they have not received at least 15% of the vote in the four Catalan constituencies. EH Bildu could concede one of his deputies to the Republicans.
Who is there? The scenario that opens at the end of August and September is complex. If the head of state proposes a candidate for prime minister, the countdown to a second election will be activated. This procedure is regulated in Article 99 of the Constitution. The President of Congress will set the date for the inauguration session. According to usual times, that time may be the first half of September. The candidate will have to obtain an absolute majority in the first ballot or a simple majority in the second ballot after forty-eight hours. As in 2016, “No confidence has been given, successive proposals will be processed in the manner provided for in the preceding sections,” Magna Carta includes. Then you will open a period of two months, until November, for a successful installation. If no candidate wins the confidence of Congress, the King will dissolve both chambers and call a second election. In other words, the Chamber will have until November to overcome the political blockade and avoid a repeat of the elections. If this position fails, elections could be held at the beginning of 2024. Sanchez did come forward yesterday that he ruled out a repeat of what happened four years ago.
ERC and Junts do not meet the minimum threshold to have their own parliamentary group and must receive external support
But there is also the possibility that no candidate will choose the position. There is a dangerous precedent: January 2016, when Rajoy refused the head of state’s offer to appear. A month later, PSOE and the Cs signed an agreement to introduce Sanchez. Failed, but the watch was activated. The second election did not prevent a new blockade, which was only deactivated after the Federal Socialist Committee on October 1 removed Sanchez to facilitate the installation of the People’s Party candidate.