The former speaker of Spain's Congress of Deputies, Meritxell Batet has decided to leave politics and has resigned as an MP in the lower house. Her resignation comes weeks after the Socialist announced to her party that she would not seek a renewal of her position as speaker of Congress. In a series of tweets on her Twitter account this Wednesday, she explains that "it is the best moment to leave active politics" after the good results of the Catalan Socialists (PSC) in the general election of 23rd July, in which she was number one on the PSC list. "I am satisfied with the work done and the duty fulfilled," she said on social media.
Her farewell statement refers to the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, with whom she has a close relationship. She thanks the leader of the Spanish Socialists for "trusting" her for "so many years". She also had words of gratitude for the current first secretary of the PSC, Salvador Illa. "It has been an intense 19 years as a member of Congress, minister of the Spanish government and speaker" of the chamber, she remarked on X, formerly Twitter.
"I am leaving with the pride of having served a collective project that seeks, above all, to improve people's lives and transform society; a project to which I have given myself body and soul and to which I will continue to serve wherever I go," she said. She also said she was "convinced" that in the coming weeks Pedro Sánchez will be re-elected as the new Spanish PM and will lead "advances and reforms that Spanish society needs". "It has been an honour and a privilege," she said.
Con estas líneas quiero comunicar que dejo la primera línea de la política y que he renunciado a mi acta de diputada. Han sido 19 años intensos como diputada del @gpscongreso, ministra del Gobierno de España y presidenta del @Congreso_Es .— Meritxell Batet (@meritxell_batet) September 6, 2023
With the resignation of Batet, head of the PSC list for Barcelona, it is predictable that the number 20 on the Socialist ticker, Angel Ayala, will enter the lower house. In the PSC candidacy for Barcelona, Batet's name was followed by that of the president of the Catalan Socialist party and acting culture minister, Miquel Iceta, with acting transport minister Raquel Sánchez at number three.
Salvador Illa did not take long to react to Batet's farewell, and thanked her for her "commitment, rigour, generosity and disposition to dialogue". "You will always be an asset for Socialism," said the PSC leader in another message on social media X.
Territorial minister and speaker of the house
Batet began her term as speaker of Congress in May 2019, after the general elections of April 28th that year. She remained in office months later, when the new parliament was constituted after the repeat election of 10th November, 2019. She left the position when the new Cortes were established on August 17th this year, following the general election of 23rd July, making way for the former Socialist president of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, as new speaker and head of the Bureau.
As speaker of Congress, Batet headed the most fragmented lower house in Spain's post-Franco history - with 19 political parties represented - and the entry for the first time of the extreme right, as Vox became part of Spanish parliamentarianism. Batet's watch as speaker was also marked by the coronavirus pandemic, which saw the suspension of activity in Congress and the adoption of extraordinary measures. Prior to assuming the speaker's role, Batet served as territorial policy minister in the PSOE government formed in June 2018 after wresting power from the People's Party leader Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence motion. Although that motion was prompted by the verdict condemning the PP in the Gurtel corruption case, the context was also marked by the Catalonia-Spain conflict, with only months having gone by since the 1st October referendum and the application of direct Spanish rule over Catalonia.