Spain's Parliament Debates No-Confidence Vote to Oust Govt

MADRID (AP) -- Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is facing a no-confidence debate in parliament brought by the nation's far-right Vox party, but it appears the maneuver lacks the necessary votes to topple the government.

The parliament is hearing arguments for and against the motion on Wednesday before a vote scheduled for Thursday. Vox argues that Sánchez's government must depart for what the party says is the poor handling of the pandemic by authorities.

If the no-confidence vote were to succeed, it would replace the current left-wing coalition government with one led by Vox leader Santiago Abascal.

The leading opposition party, the conservative Popular Party, however, has already said it won't back Vox. Without the Popular Party's votes, the motion has no chance.

“With victims, outbreaks and infections, the truth is that this no-confidence motion is a waste of time,” Popular Party secretary-general Teodoro García Egea said before the start of the debate.

Many observers of Spanish politics consider the no-confidence vote as a way for the upstart Vox to put more pressure on the Popular Party. The Popular Party has been very critical of Sánchez, but Vox's rise in recent years has come at the expense of the Spain's traditional right-wing force. Now it must choose between one adversary or the other.

Spain is set to become the first country in Western Europe to reach 1 million reported infections of the virus. The country has confirmed more than 34,000 deaths from COVID-19, but experts say the true death toll has likely been impossible to record because of a shortage of tests in the first weeks of the health crisis.

“Sánchez's government is the worst in the world that has faced the coronavirus,” Abascal told the parliament's lower house. He said that the current government is the “worst in 80 years of (Spanish) history” signaling his preference for the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco that ruled from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 to after his death in 1975.