Socialist Pedro Sánchez, is sworn in as Spain's new prime minister


Spanish Socialist Pedro Sánchez has been sworn in as the country's new prime minister by King Felipe after the ousting of conservative Mariano Rajoy. 

He plans to see out the remaining two years of the parliamentary term, after winning the support of six other parties to remove Mr. Rajoy over a massive corruption scandal.

As Spain's new prime minister, whose party only has a quarter of the seats in parliament, he now has to decide who to include in his cabinet and he's expected to name them by next week. This won't be an easy task to Mr. Sánchez, and I wouldn't be surprised if this announcement took longer than a week to be made.

Curiously Mr. Sánchez, who is an atheist, took the oath to protect the constitution without a bible or crucifix - the first Prime Minister in Spain's modern history to do so. I particularly think this was a very disrespectful act not only to the Institutions in Spain but also to the 70% of the population who is Roman Catholic.

Anyway, it was a brief ceremony at the royal residence in Madrid on Saturday, Mr. Sánchez, 46, promised to "faithfully fulfill" his duties "with conscience and honour, with loyalty to the king, and to guard and have guarded the constitution as a fundamental state rule".

Listen to the moment he was sworn in:

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more

It is important to say that Pedro Sánchez emerged as a virtual unknown to win the Spanish Socialist party premiership in 2014. Economist and former basketball player, he won members over with a promise to unite a divided party and put the Socialists back in power.

Yet he subsequently suffered two humbling election defeats, in 2015 and 2016. He was eventually forced to resign after his refusal to back Mariano Rajoy in an investiture vote plunged the country into a prolonged political stalemate and his party into bitter infighting.

Months later he confounded his many critics by returning to win the Socialist primary.

Spain's constitution states that the party presenting a no-confidence motion must be prepared to govern and replace the deposed prime minister if a parliamentary majority backs it.

Therefore, this moderate but ambitious 46-year-old from Madrid is now Spain's prime minister, despite the fact that his party commands less than a quarter of seats in Congress.

Mr. Rajoy's departure casts the EU's fifth-largest economy into political uncertainty. Although Mr. Sánchez leads the Socialist PSOE party, he is not a member of parliament. Correspondents say that with only 84 lower house seats, the party will struggle to find allies to get legislation enacted. In return for having backed Mr Sánchez in the parliament vote, Spain's left-wing Podemos (We Can) party is likely to demand significant policy concessions from the PSOE, and perhaps some key cabinet posts. The new prime minister is likely to be challenged strongly over his plan to stick to the Rajoy budget.

Also, Smaller groups - including Basque and Catalan nationalists - supported the no-confidence motion against Mr Rajoy, but it is unclear whether they will back the new government.

Let's hope this new government will have the support of the parliament to continue the much-needed reforms in Spain's economy.