Spain’s Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of the country by King Felipe after the ousting of conservative Mariano Rajoy.
“I promise by my conscience and honour to faithfully fulfil the obligations of the office of President of the Government with loyalty to the King, and to keep and enforce the Constitution as the fundamental norm of the State,” CNN quoted Sanchez, as saying.
Sanchez, who leads the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and reportedly is an atheist, has become the first Spanish Prime Minister to be sworn in without a Bible or crucifix, according to the party.
Rajoy is said to have been present at the ceremony.
The new Prime Minister faces significant challenges and an uphill battle as he assumes office.
Last year, Spain was hit by the Catalan independence crisis, which remains unresolved yet. Spaniards are plagued by high unemployment and the effects of the financial crisis.
The 46-year-old former economics professor has promised to address the “pressing social needs” of citizens.
According to the report, Sanchez will work on his Cabinet this weekend and is likely to name them next week.
His own party holds only 84 seats in the 350-seat chamber and secured support for the no-confidence motion from a number of other parties in parliament, according to several media reports.
Who is Pedro Sanchez?
Passionately pro-European, Sanchez studied for a masters in economic policy in Brussels and he has worked in the European Parliament and the United Nations.
He has committed to respecting the European Union’s fiscal rules and has already endorsed Rajoy’s budget. His weak hand in parliament means he is also unlikely to rescind any of the structural reforms the conservatives passed.
Sanchez was first elected as party leader in 2014, coming from the party’s backbenches as a relative unknown.
The economics lecturer, whose nickname is “Pedro el Guapo” [Pedro the beautiful], was expected to use his charisma to lead a new era for the PSOE.
The PSOE has struggled to carve out a role in the new fragmented political landscape that emerged from the worst economic crisis since the Spanish civil war of the 1930s and ended four decades of a stable two-party system.
Sanchez lost two national elections to Rajoy’s People’s Party in 2015 and 2016.
The wounds inside the party have remained profound and Sanchez has relied on the strong support he enjoys from the party’s grassroots rather than its elite, something which could make it harder for him to form a strong government.
His supporters say he has a calm personality and a talent for compromise. Opponents say he lacks charisma and a clear political vision.
The avid athlete and basketball fan is married with two daughters. Spanish newspaper El Pais wrote on Friday about the “miracle of Doctor Sanchez”, characterising him as “persistent and daring”.