Socialist leader ‘Mr Handsome’ sworn in as Spain’s prime minister

Socialist leader dubbed ‘Mr Handsome’ is sworn in as Spain’s prime minister after after Mariano Rajoy is ousted in corruption scandal

  • Pedro Sanchez, 46, was sworn in at a ceremony with King Felipe VI in Madrid 
  • He heads a minority government backed by the far left and Catalan separatists 
  • The photogenic new leader has been likened to Spanish actor Antonio Banderas
  • Mariano Rajoy was toppled by a no-confidence vote in parliament yesterday

Pedro Sanchez has been sworn in as Spain’s new prime minister, bringing his socialist party to power a day after he ousted Mariano Rajoy in a no-confidence vote. 

Sanchez, a 46-year-old economist with no government experience, took the oath of office before King Felipe VI in the Zarzuela Palace near Madrid.

His socialist party, which holds just 84 of the 350 seats in parliament, will lead a minority government supported by far-left Podemos, Catalan separatists and an array of minor regional parties.

The photogenic new leader has been dubbed ‘Mr Handsome’ and likened to Spanish actor Antonio Banderas. 

Pedro Sanchez, 46, pictured at today’s swearing-in ceremony, has become Spain’s new prime minister and will head a minority government led by his socialist party

King Felipe VI watches incoming Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez during today’s ceremony at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid, a day after a dramatic no-confidence vote

It marks a stunning comeback for Sanchez, who was thrown out of the party leadership after two crushing election defeats in 2015 and 2016 but returned to the job last year.  

Rajoy was toppled in a confidence vote yesterday after a court found former Popular Party officials guilty of receiving bribes in exchange for awarding public contracts, in a vast graft scheme between 1999 and 2005.

An absolute majority of 180 lawmakers voted for the motion on Friday to loud applause and shouts of ‘Yes we can’. 

The new PM has promised his ‘main priority’ will be to respect Madrid’s deficit reduction commitments to the European Union. 

The socialist leader, who must still name his cabinet, has also vowed to implement the 2018 budget designed by Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) government.   

Sanchez and his party are staunch supporters of the EU and the shared currency.

Sanchez (left) poses with King Felipe and outgoing prime minister Mariano Rajoy (right) today

Pedro Sanchez, an economist with no government experience, took the oath of office today and shook hands with King Felipe VI at La Zarzuela palace in Madrid

The incoming leader has also vowed to fight corruption and help Spaniards affected by years of public spending cuts under Rajoy’s government. 

He has also pledged to hold an election soon, although he has not specified a date setting a date. 

Sanchez has pledged to open talks with the separatist leader of northeastern Catalonia, which is set to recover a large degree of self-rule when chief Quim Torra swears in his Cabinet later on Saturday.

The forming of a Catalan government will end the Madrid government’s takeover of the region as part of its crackdown following a failed declaration of independence by Catalonia in October. 

All of his allies in the no-confidence motion stressed their vote against Rajoy was not a blank cheque for Sanchez.

‘Our ‘Yes’ to Sanchez is a ‘No’ to Rajoy,’ is how Joan Tarda of Catalan pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) put it in parliament. 

Sanchez is Spain’s seventh prime minister since the return to democracy following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Sanchez and Rajoy shake hands after the no-confidence vote in Spain’s parliament yesterday

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