Challenges and priorities of the new Spanish government

On March 5, 2019, the Spanish government called for general elections after the incumbent Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) was unable to pass a General State Budget. From then until Jan. 7, 2019, when Pedro Sanchez became Prime Minister, ten months passed, with two general elections and other local, autonomous and European Parliament elections taking place, reconfiguring Spain’s institutional landscape. The new Congress shows never before seen political fragmentation, reflecting society’s disaffection with the various political options.

PSOE won the aforementioned general elections, held April 28, 2019, being the most voted party (123 seats), followed by the People’s Party (PP) as second, with a difference of 57 representatives in the Congress of Deputies. As soon as the results were announced, it was very clear the two-party system that had prevailed since 1978 had been replaced with a Parliament made up of two blocks. In practice, this has brought about a political blockade. Pedro Sanchez took on the challenge of forming a government and trying to reach an agreement with the left-wing parliamentary block, with Podemos as his main ally. Sanchez also sought support from nationalist and pro-independence groups. In the end, PSOE simply failed to reach an agreement, making another round of elections inevitable. 

“As soon as the results were announced, it was very clear the two-party system that had prevailed since 1978 had been replaced with a Parliament made up of two blocks

New elections were held Nov. 10, 2019. The election results in April and November were similar, but this time just 24 hours after the polls closed, Sanchez and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias closed a “pre-agreement to form a coalition government”. In the weeks that followed, the coalition gained support from regionalist, nationalist and independentist parties, until the investiture came down to the left-wing pro-independence ERC.

Sanchez won the House’s confidence in a second vote, with 8 political parties in favor, 9 against and 2 abstaining.

Challenges Facing the Executive Branch

Sanchez’s government faces a complicated national and international situation, one in which very different political initiatives will have to coexist.

The main “transformations” Sanchez wants to bring about include:

  • Strengthen the Spanish economy, adapting it to the modern scientific and technological revolution to generate quality employment.
  • Commit to bolstering Spain’s territorial cohesion by increasing understanding and institutional balance.
  • Promote social justice and protect those Spaniards with fewer resources.
  • Address the climatic emergency and carry out a fair ecological transition within the economy.
  • Achieve full equality for women and all people who endure any kind of discrimination in their lives.

These changed will be affected by the following challenges:

Economic challenges

  • Economic slowdown
  • Political initiatives with expansive spending and waning income
  • European commitments incompatible with increased spending
  • Need to pass the new budget immediately
  • The green economy, center of the new parliament

Social challenges

  • Employment slowdown and labor reform
  • Pension Reform

Political challenges

  • Coalition government, or a coalition of governments?
  • A government without alternatives
  • The Catalonian situation: Dialogue and conflict
  • More territorial tension: Funding for autonomous regions

We encourage you to read the full report, in which we delve into these challenges, analyze the profiles of all the actors in the new government and share their respective skills and backgrounds.


Joan Navarro
Jose Luis Ayllón
Cristóbal Herrera

Downloadable material