The Bureau of the Spanish Congress is the body that organises the day-to-day running of the lower chamber. It is comprised of a speaker, four deputy speakers and four secretaries, all members of the Congress. Today, the first sitting since last month's repeat general election, saw the election of the new Bureau for the coming legislature.
As the largest party, PSOE was able to bring back Meritxell Batet as speaker. The other eight positions, however, had been subject to intense speculation in recent days as parties tried to share out their votes and thus the seats, but most of the proposed pacts fell through.
In the second vote this Tuesday, far-right party Vox got the fourth deputy speakership for delegate Ignacio Gil Lázaro. In the end, its own votes were enough. Given the lack of agreement between the right-wing parties, there was a possibility for PP to get another member on the Bureau leaving Vox out in the cold if PSOE had helped with some of its votes.
That, however, would have seen PSOE cede the first deputy speaker chair to PP's Ana Pastor, speaker 2016-2019, something they were unwilling to do. PP, for their part, were opposed to blocking Vox out, and indeed had tried to negotiate their own deal with the far-right party and Ciudadanos.
The voting happens, in theory, in three rounds. First, the vote for speaker, which requires an absolute majority. Then, the vote for the deputies and finally the one for the secretaries. They both use the same system: each deputy secretly writes one name on a ballot; the four candidates with the most votes are elected. In the case of ties, a run-off is held.
The deputies from Catalan pro-independence parties ERC and JxCat, who gave blank votes for speaker, did take part in voting for the other seats on the Bureau. They supported Gerardo Pisarello and Gloria Elizo from Unidas Podemos.
This, however, didn't bring together the numbers to keep Vox out entirely, although in the end they only had their own 52 votes to get their candidate through. Out of the 350 seats in the Congress, PSOE and Podemos hold 146 between them. Bringing in ERC and JxCat alone, that rises to 167, which would have been sufficient to keep Vox out if a plan had been agreed and stuck to. In the end, in the second round, PSOE and Unidas Podemos's candidates got a total of 185 votes.
Seven of the nine members of the Bureau are back from the previous legislature, which began after April's general election, although there has been some shuffling of positions. Both Batet and Pastor have been speaker before and have held ministerial portfolios in different Spanish governments. Others have had high profiles in local politics, for example Gerardo Pisarello, born in Argentina and Ada Colau's deputy in Barcelona until earlier this year.
The new Bureau:
- Speaker - Meritxell Batet (PSOE)
- First deputy - Alfonso Rodríguez Gómez de Celis (PSOE)
- Second deputy - Ana Pastor (PP)
- Third deputy - Gloria Elizo (Podemos)
- Fourth deputy - Ignacio Gil Lázaro (Vox)
- First secretary - Gerardo Pisarello (Podemos)
- Second secretary - Sofía Hernanz (PSOE)
- Third secretary - Javier Sánchez Serna (Podemos)
- Fourth secretary - Adolfo Suarez Illana (PP)