First day of the investiture session

Pedro Sánchez proposes a government that will give Spain "four more years of stability, coexistence and progress"

President's News - 2023.11.15

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Lower House of Parliament, Madrid

The acting Chief Executive and candidate for the Presidency of the Government of Spain, proposed by King Felipe VI after the round of consultations on 2 and 3 October, has asked for the confidence of the Lower House of Parliament so that Spain can continue to move forward and face transformations such as climate change, globalisation, inequalities between nations, the rise of armed conflicts and the arrival of artificial intelligence.

In the opening speech of the investiture debate, he pointed out that these transformations provoke uncertainty and a feeling of defencelessness among citizens, and feed reactionary political expressions that can end up undermining the foundations of democracy. Faced with these options, Pedro Sánchez has opted for progress, for the consolidation of the welfare state and for the extension of the gains achieved in recent years, such as dignity in the workplace, the empowerment of women, respect for sexual diversity and the integration of migrants.

The candidate affirmed that only a progressive government in Spain is capable of paralysing the dismantling of constitutional and democratic values and the cuts in social achievements that "the reactionary right" is applying in some autonomous communities. "In this session, it is up to us to choose the way forward. Either we open the door to this movement, or we stop it in its tracks by erecting a wall of democracy, coexistence and tolerance," he said.

Sánchez defended the "path of progress and advancement", ruled out "the politics of insults, hatred and tension" and called for a halt to "climate denialism, classism, sexism and xenophobia. I am here to propose that we give Spain four more years of stability, coexistence and progress, and that we say no to reactionaries whose only aim is regression and confrontation", he remarked.

The acting president stressed that, in the last four years, Spain has become a more prosperous, just and respected country, and one that offers more opportunities because the measures put in place by the progressive coalition have worked, and he asked for the support of the legislative chamber to continue along the same path.

Full employment and increased purchasing power

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during his speech at the Lower House of Parliament during the first session of the investiture debate | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Throughout his speech, Pedro Sánchez detailed the main objectives his government will have if it wins the confidence of the deputies.

The first of these "eight commitments" to citizens is to complete the modernisation begun during the last legislature, transforming the productive fabric into a green and digital one: "We will redouble our commitment to innovation, training and digitalisation, and we will deploy €115 billion of European funds to help this process of change reach all our SMEs and the self-employed".

The goal is to have more and better jobs, which takes the form of "reaching full employment", guaranteeing by law that the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI) continues to rise to remain at 60% of the average wage and to promote the reduction of the working week to 37.5 hours a week.

The Government will also adopt initiatives so that "the purchasing power of Spaniards will grow again", not only in the medium and long term, but also in the coming months: it will extend the lowering of VAT on food until June 2024; it will raise the income threshold to €38 billion to qualify for the mortgage relief, and public transport will be free from 1 January for all minors, young people and the unemployed.

Improving citizens' lives

The second commitment is to "continue strengthening the welfare state to improve people's lives, starting with the National Health System". In this area, he announced the implementation, with the regional governments that so wish, of a plan to drastically reduce waiting lists, and the reinforcement of primary care and a State Pact for Mental Health that guarantees that in Spain "there is not a single citizen who needs psychological help and cannot get it".

The candidate defended quality public education, with better conditions for teachers and more grants; "cutting-edge science", with more funding for research centres and a Statute for Teaching and Research Staff, and "free and accessible culture for all", guaranteed by a Law on Cultural Rights.

Revaluation of pensions and better care for dependents

Furthermore, to "safeguard the dignity and welfare of our elderly", he announced that pensions will continue to be revalued in line with the CPI, and the resources earmarked for dependency will be increased to achieve a higher quality, more personalised care model that prioritises home care. In addition, €5 billion will be allocated annually to the pension reserve fund "so that today's workers will have decent pensions when they retire".

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, goes up to the rostrum to begin his speech in the first session of the investiture debate as a candidate for the Presidency of the Government of the XV Legislature | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

It will also strengthen the Minimum Vital Income (IMV), simplifying access requirements, and a new model of face-to-face attention to citizens will be established with flexible opening hours and without mandatory appointments. A maximum of 30 days will be set by law for the receipt of benefits such as dependency allowances.

To strengthen the welfare state and, at the same time, reduce the public deficit, Sánchez advocates improving the efficiency of the administration, combating the underground economy and tax evasion, increasing the progressivity of Personal Income Tax and guaranteeing an effective minimum of 15% in Corporate Tax.

Facilitating access to housing

The third priority is to improve access to housing, "one of the biggest problems facing many citizens, especially young people", said the candidate. The premise of the Executive's action must be "to help tenants and small landlords".

In this regard, he announced the increase in the rental voucher, the creation of a line of guarantees that will allow them to cover up to 20% of the mortgage and the provision of the 183,000 public housing units for affordable rent that have already been committed to. As for middle- and working-class homeowners who have housing as their main savings instrument or safety net, they will be helped to refurbish and modernise their homes through the legal framework and with tax incentives for renting.

A green transition that leaves no one behind

As the fourth priority of the legislature, Pedro Sánchez has pointed to a green transition "that helps mitigate climate change, protects our nature and generates wealth and new opportunities throughout the territory".

The candidate proposes favouring energy communities and tripling the installed capacity of self-consumption so that, by the end of this decade, half of all energy consumed in Spain will come from renewable sources. He also advocated re-establishing the National Energy Commission to guarantee the better functioning of the energy system, modernising hydrological infrastructures, promoting ecological and regenerative agriculture, approving a Family Farming Law and deploying a National Food Strategy for Spain.

Real equality and the fight against sex-based violence

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during his speech at the Lower House of Parliament during the first session of the investiture debate | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Ensuring that Spain continues to be a benchmark for equality is Pedro Sánchez's fifth priority, to which effect he declared that "improving women's lives means achieving full and effective equality". To correct persisting inequalities, he has advanced the approval of a Law on Parity Representation, the extension of paternity and maternity leave to 20 weeks, the universalisation of public education from the age of two and the granting of the same level of protection to single-parent families with two children as that enjoyed by large families.

Also in the area of equality, the candidate has pledged to seek a State Pact for LGTBI people, which he considers "more necessary than ever".

Sánchez also stressed the need to continue to combat gender violence. As regards child sexual abuse, the legal framework will be strengthened to ensure that civil liability is not time-barred; a state fund will be set up for the payment of aid and compensation to victims; and, following the Ombudsman's recommendations, the accompaniment and supervision mechanisms of the Law for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents will be strengthened

More territorial cohesion and solidarity with the autonomous communities

"Providing a better life for Spaniards means reducing existing differences between provinces and strengthening territorial cohesion", said the candidate. The government's sixth priority is therefore to continue moving towards "the decentralised and polycentric model that our Constitution postulates". Along these lines, the bulk of European funds will be devoted to creating new industries and opportunities "outside the big capitals", railway infrastructures will be improved and access to basic public services will be guaranteed for all municipalities within a radius of less than 30 minutes.

With regard to regional funding, Pedro Sánchez pledged to promote a new model "that guarantees all territories the necessary resources, based on the principles of equity, financial autonomy and fiscal co-responsibility". He also defended continuing along the "path of solidarity" with the autonomous communities of the last legislature, assuming part of their debt.

Reconciliation with Catalonia: dialogue, generosity and forgiveness

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during his speech at the Lower House of Parliament during the first session of the investiture debate | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Pedro Sánchez stated that his seventh priority is to make progress on the agenda of the reconciliation with Catalonia to guarantee a better coexistence in Spain: "We must promote coexistence and forgiveness not only to win a legislature of progress, but also to bet on a future of reconciliation and harmony".

The progressive coalition government he intends to lead, he said, does not share the idea that the territories would be better off being independent: "We are convinced that a united Spain is a better, more prosperous and stronger Spain".

To guarantee this unity, Sánchez is opting for the "path of dialogue, understanding and forgiveness", even if this is difficult because the positions are very different, rather than the alternative of imposition and social tension. "We have put negotiation before imposition, reconciliation before revenge; in short, unity before fracture. Where before there was a breach of the Constitution in certain territories, in the last five years, it has been complied with in every aspect", he pointed out.

In this context, the candidate affirmed that there is no surer path to understanding than to re-establish the political bridges that should never have been broken: "This is why we have pardoned the leaders of the 'procés', and why we have supported the use of co-official languages in the Lower House and promoted their use in European institutions".

Sánchez added that the path of understanding is working because coexistence has returned to the streets and dialogue to the institutions, and the majority of citizens and parliamentary groups prefer the Catalonia of 2023 to that of 2017. "Dialogue, generosity and forgiveness have worked and helped to heal wounds," he said.

Legal and constitutional amnesty

The candidate argued that his government has promoted the amnesty for the people prosecuted in the 'procés' because this measure of grace can help to overcome the rift opened in October 2017, to bring positions closer together and to persuade many Catalans that Spain is a good country for them, and that Catalonia is ready for a full reconciliation.

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, faces the first session of the investiture debate as a candidate for the Presidency of the Government of the XV Legislature | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

Pedro Sánchez has acknowledged that approval of this measure may or may not be given among citizens, whose opinion he greatly respects, but it is being adopted "to consolidate the progress achieved in the last four years and to continue advancing along the path of coexistence and progress" and "prevent Spain from going backwards" in terms of rights and freedoms.

"The amnesty we are proposing is perfectly legal and in accordance with the Constitution", stressed the acting president, who recalled that the measure is not unprecedented because other countries have applied it, as have the governments of the Popular Party that preceded his own when they needed votes to "avoid the blockade and ensure Spain's governability. And none of these concessions have weakened Spain, broken our democracy, or led us towards a dictatorship. They turned us into a decentralised state, like many of the most advanced countries in the world," he added.

"The amnesty will be approved in the light of day. In full transparency. It will be debated in the Lower House. It will have all the legal guarantees, with the majority vote of this democratically elected chamber. It will not be an attack on the Constitution of 78, but quite the contrary, it will be a further demonstration of its strength and its validity", Sánchez said.

In the candidate's opinion, the amnesty will be to the benefit of political leaders whose ideas he does not share and whose actions he rejects, but it will help hundreds of citizens who were dragged down by the 'procés', such as the national police and the 'mossos d'esquadra' who suffered the consequences of a political crisis.

Leadership in Europe

The eighth priority put forward by the candidate is Europe, where "Spain has taken on an unprecedented international prominence". Pedro Sánchez recalled that before holding the presidency of the Council of the EU he had already led important debates such as the reform of the electricity market and the Common Agricultural Policy, and now he is a continental point of reference on issues such as strategic autonomy, the green and digital transition, and migration and asylum policies.

He added that in the coming years, the EU will have to forge new ties with the rest of the world, consolidate its technological and scientific leadership at the global level and address challenges such as migration and climate change. In addition, it will have to undertake enlargement towards the Western Balkans, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and Spain will be among the countries leading these processes. It will analyse the challenges, seek opportunities, propose solutions, defend European values and promote dialogue and respect for plurality on the continent.

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, during his speech at the Lower House of Parliament during the first session of the investiture debate | Pool Moncloa/Fernando Calvo

The aim, said the acting president, is to improve the lives of Spaniards. "That is the purpose that has guided and will guide the action of the progressive coalition government: to give our citizens a fuller life. A life of certainties, of security, with more and better jobs, more and better public services, more affordable housing, more environmental sustainability, more equality, more territorial cohesion, more coexistence and more Europe".

In the international arena, Pedro Sánchez has also expressed his commitment that his new government will work to ensure that Spain, Europe and the international community recognise the Palestinian state. He also said he would continue to support Ukraine "until the last Russian soldier leaves a country that wants to be free and European".

Investiture procedure

After a recess, the investiture session continues today and tomorrow with the representatives of the parliamentary groups taking the floor. At the end of the debate, the first vote will be held, in which the candidate needs the support of an absolute majority of the plenary (176 deputies) to be elected president of the government.

If this is not achieved, a second ballot will be held 48 hours after the first, in which the candidate will be sworn in if he achieves a simple majority, i.e. more votes in favour than against.

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