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What is a motion of censure

Posted: Wednesday October 21 2020 07:10

The motion of censure is “the only procedure by which the Congress of Deputies can express on its own initiative the loss of confidence in the government”. This is how Joaquín J. Marco Marco, Doctor of Law from the University of Valencia, defines it in his book Spanish Political System and Civil Liberties (Psylicom Ediciones, 2017).

According to the expert, this possibility is envisaged in article 113 of the Spanish constitution. This article establishes that Parliament cannot overthrow the government except by electing a new president at the same time, with the aim of “preventing government instability from affecting the stability of the chamber elected by the body politic. », He adds. Frame.

In order for a motion of censure to take place, you must follow the following steps, as explained in the rules of the Congress of Deputies:

1. The party presenting the motion of censure must first submit a letter to the Bureau of the Congress. This document must be signed by at least one-tenth of the members of Congress, ie 35. The letter must include the name of the alternative candidate for the presidency of the government with express proof that he has accepted the candidacy.

2. Secondly, the drafting will be qualified by the Bureau of the Congress and communicated to the President of the Government and to the spokespersons of the parliamentary groups so that, within two days, they can present alternative motions. In any case, between the presentation and the vote, at least five days must elapse.

3. The debate on each proposal begins with an intervention by one of the signatories and is followed by another by the proposed presidential candidate.

4. For the motion of censure to be approved, the favorable vote of the absolute majority of Congress is necessary, that is to say that 176 deputies must vote in favor of the candidacy.

In case of success and obtaining the necessary majority, the king automatically appoints the candidate who appears in the text of the motion as president of the government. If, on the contrary, the proposal does not obtain an absolute majority, the motion will be understood as rejected and its signatories will not be able to present another one during the same period of sessions, as happened in the first motion of no confidence. in democratic history: it was in 1980 and presented by Felipe González (PSOE) against Adolfo Suárez (UDC).

Motions of no confidence in the history of democracy

Unlike the first motion of censure (1980) of democracy, rejected by 166 votes against, the one promoted in 2018 by Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) went ahead. The socialist leader obtained 180 votes in favor, a support which allowed him to end the government of Mariano Rajoy after the decision of the national court on the Gürtel case. It is the first motion of censure to advance in the democratic history of Spain.

A year before the socialist victory, Podemos proposed the third motion of censure of democratic Spain and the first against the government of Rajoy. The vote resulted in 170 votes against the motion, 82 in favor and 97 abstentions.

The second motion of no confidence was presented by Alianza Popular (AP) – the current Popular Party (PP) – against the socialist government of Felipe González in 1987. The initiative, which was doomed from the start given that the PSOE had an absolute majority in Congress, obtained 67 votes for, against 195 against.

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