Submitting to a question of confidence or ceding the Presidency, the options that Sánchez could consider

The President of the Spanish Government cannot dissolve the Parliament before 30 May, one year after the previous dissolution. A vote of confidence does not require an absolute majority, and relinquishing the presidency would entail a new process of consultation with the King and the organisation of another investiture.

The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, who today announced a reflection to decide whether to continue at the head of the Executive, cannot dissolve the Parliament before 30 May, a year after the previous dissolution, but he does have it in his power to submit to a vote of confidence that does not require an absolute majority. This circumstance would take the elections to the last weeks of July. The law does not state that they have to be celebrated on a Sunday, but if they were, they would most likely go to July 28.

Another option would be to cede the presidency to another socialist, but that would imply a new process of consultations with the King and the organization of another investiture that, with the current political map, would require many agreements and complicities.

The question of confidence is a political instrument available to the President of the Government to deal with a situation of weakness vis-à-vis the Parliament that has elected him and through which the Government asks Congress to support its policy.

Article 172 of the Constitution provides that the President of the Government, after deliberation by the Council of Ministers, may submit to the Congress of Deputies the question of confidence in his programme or in a declaration of general policy. Confidence shall be deemed to have been granted when a simple majority of the Members vote in favour of it. The debate takes place in the same format as the investitures.

If Sánchez did not obtain the confidence of Congress, it would be the same as if he had resigned and the process to invest a new president would begin, with consultations with the king and a new investiture debate.

On the contrary, the possibility of the President of the Spanish Government resigning from office would open up an uncertain scenario with many unknowns, but most of which are also answered in the Constitution and the electoral law.

What happens if Pedro Sánchez resigns?

In this case, the resignation of the head of the Executive would mean that the entire Cabinet would continue in office until a new Prime Minister is appointed. This means that the Government would be limited in its powers, without the capacity to legislate, as happens after the general elections and before electing the new Executive.

Who would appoint the new president?

Congress would be responsible for electing a new president in a process identical to that of the inaugurations held after a general election. The king would hold a round of consultations with the spokespersons of the parties represented in the Lower House and, after hearing their opinions, would nominate a candidate.

In this hypothesis, the candidate designated by the king to succeed Pedro Sánchez would be subject to an investiture debate and in order to be elected he would have to receive the support of the absolute majority of Congress in the first ballot or more ‘yes’ than ‘no’ in the second.

If the candidate fails to be invested, a two-month period would begin in which new candidates proposed by the king can run for the presidency. If, after these two months, no candidate obtains the confidence of Congress, the Cortes is automatically dissolved and new general elections are called.

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