About to turn 90, Ramón Tamames (Madrid, 1933) will become the sixth candidate to reach the Presidency of the Government through a motion of no confidence. The one led by him is the second that Vox promotes in this legislature to try to expel Pedro Sánchez from Moncloa. And, like the previous one, which was headed by the current organization secretary of the extreme right, Ignacio Garriga, the initiative was born doomed to failure after its official registration, this Monday in Congress.
Vox closes the candidate for a motion of censure without support or program more than two months later
The extreme right only has the support of its 52 deputies, in addition to the vote in favor announced by the Foro parliamentarian and by the two from Navarra Suma, UPN defectors. The PP will abstain after its leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, called the motion a “parliamentary show” by Santiago Abascal’s party, which he accuses of giving wings to Sánchez. Feijóo is aware that the rest of the political forces will vote against and add up to 206 of the 350 seats in the chamber, but he also does not want to snub the extreme right, an essential ally on his way to La Moncloa.
Since the restoration of democracy, in 1977, six motions of censure have been registered, including the one that Vox formalized this Monday, headed by leaders as diverse as Felipe González (PSOE), Antonio Hernández Mancha (AP, predecessor of the PP), Pablo Iglesias (Podemos), Pedro Sánchez (PSOE), Ignacio Garriga (Vox) and, now, Ramón Tamames. All failed except the one defended in May 2018 by the leader whom the extreme right now wants to censor, the current Prime Minister.
That triumph took place unexpectedly a week after the courts condemned the PP for profit for the Gürtel plot. It was a dizzying negotiation that ended seven years of the Government of Mariano Rajoy. And that the PNV, a few days before had agreed with the PP the Budgets. But the sentence that certified the corruption of the PP led the Basque nationalists to withdraw their support for the chief executive at the last moment. The socialist leader achieved more ‘yeses’ than ‘noes’ for his and Sánchez’s motion and the sum of the lefts brought down Rajoy’s Cabinet.
From Casado’s ‘no’ to Feijóo’s abstention
Two years later, in the midst of a pandemic, Sánchez himself went from being a candidate for president to being overthrown in the motion that Vox registered in 2020 to try to expel him from power. But the extreme right was left alone in disapproving of the Executive and did not get a single vote more than that of its 52 parliamentarians in favor of the motion. He ‘no’ from the PP, announced at the last moment by what was then its leader, Pablo Casadoafter days of suspense, allowed the Lower House to weave a historic cordon sanitaire against the extreme right.
“They have all come together to defeat Vox, it has not been the first time and it will not be the last, but do not celebrate it too much because soon you will be fighting for the spoils of ruin,” Abascal acknowledged in his last intervention in the debate on the motion before the Plenary Session of Congress, on October 22, 2020. “Spain will prevail despite you,” concluded the defeated candidate. “It has become clear that you do not have any support,” Sánchez himself reminded him, on his part, strengthened after the rejection of the initiative.
The main blow that Abascal suffered was the ‘no’ from the PP but also the harsh speech that Casado gave against Vox, the party with which he competes for the same electorate and which, at the same time, allowed him to maintain power at that time. the Community of Madrid, Andalusia and the Region of Murcia, and with the one that still governs today in coalition in Castilla y León.
“We will vote ‘no’ to his candidacy to preside over the Government of Spain. We will vote ‘no’ because we say no to the rupture that you are looking for, ‘no’ to the polarization that you need, like Sánchez. ‘No’ to that Spain with clubs, in black and white, trenches, anger and fear. ‘No’ to that anti-Spanish monstrosity, which you also sponsor, that Cainite anti-politics of the left or right destined to make the Spanish hate and fear each other. We say ‘no’ to your motion because we say ‘no’ to Sánchez and his partners, the visible ones and the one in the shadows, which is you”, Casado settled.
The moderate sector of the PP then praised its leader for his forcefulness against the extreme right. In that more centrist faction, Alberto Núñez Feijóo used to be located, who at that time was one of the main barons of the party in his capacity as president of the Xunta de Galicia. However, the current leader of the popular, who came to office after expelling Casado a year ago in an unprecedented process, now opts for a less belligerent position than that of his predecessor, since he has announced that the PP will abstain in the motion headed by Tamames, while in 2020 his party voted against Vox’s previous initiative. “There are many citizens who want a change in the Government,” he justified himself, this week. He had previously spoken with Tamames, to whom he also told in public, that if he were his father, he would recommend that he not go through this.
The “visibility” of an “alternative”
Only a year before Sánchez arrived at Moncloa in 2018 thanks to his motion against Rajoy, the then leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, led another against the PP government that did not bear fruit. The one who months later managed to be vice president of the Government and who is now officially retired from politics, had justified the proposal that the corruption of the PP was already inadmissible for the country. The motion achieved at first the only support of Compromís and the willingness to negotiate of the Catalan nationalists. But the PSOE, the main force in the opposition to Rajoy, which was in the midst of a battle for leadership, distanced itself from the initiative and abstained, leading it to failure. The numbers did not give, argued the socialists, compared to the sum of PP and Ciudadanos. Together with Podemos and their confluences, Compromís, Bildu and ERC voted affirmatively.
“It is very important to insist on the idea that the motion of censure is not only a constructive mechanism, it is also a parliamentary mechanism that allows the visibility of an opposition and a country alternative to the chamber. As both PSOE (González) and PP (AP, Hernández Mancha) have done in the past”, Podemos then defended in an internal document that was leaked to the press. In addition to Compromís, the confederal group only got the support of ERC and Bildu, so it did not prosper.
You have to go back 30 years to remember the motion of no confidence prior to that of Iglesias. It happened in March 1987, when the then leader of Alianza Popular, Antonio Hernández-Mancha, proposed removing Felipe González from his horse, alleging the “general deterioration of the situation the country is going through and the government’s inability to deal with it.” It was just a coup by Hernández-Mancha to make himself known and establish himself as González’s counterweight, since at that time the PSOE had an absolute majority in Congress and, therefore, the motion failed.
However, the image of the then AP leader had been badly damaged and the party plunged into a succession of internal struggles that ended up pushing him to resign two years later. Manuel Fraga then took the reins and in 1989 he refounded AP to give birth to a new party called to reunify the Spanish center-right.
The first motion of no confidence in democracy had been debated in Parliament long before, between May 28 and 30, 1980. It was headed by Felipe González who, despite losing it, two years later swept the polls, achieving the first absolute majority for the PSOE and 202 deputies. “A motion of no confidence is an impulse for clarification, so that each party, so that each man and each woman take a position on what is happening politically in our country,” said the then ‘number two’ of the Socialists, Alfonso Guerra, to defend his maneuver against the then head of the Executive, Adolfo Suárez.
From PCE to Vox
Spain was then facing an economic crisis against which the Suárez government was trying to combat with the plan designed by Fernando Abril Martorell. In the middle of the debate on the state of the Nation in 1980, dominated by the serious unemployment crisis, the PSOE announced that it was presenting that motion against Suárez, which immediately gained the support of the Communist Party. The problem for the socialists was that it was their only support.
The Socialists failed as will happen with the one now headed by Tamames on behalf of Vox. Precisely the now extreme right candidate for the presidency of the Government was then part of the PCE that unsuccessfully supported González. In 1981, a year later, Tamames abandoned his communist militancy forever.