Francina Armengol after the vote. | Chema Moya


The former president of the Balearics, Francina Armengol, has been confirmed as the new president (speaker) of Spain's Congress of Deputies, the Spanish parliament. Voting on Thursday was 178 in her favour (a house majority is 176).

Nominated by Prime Minister Sánchez, Armengol becomes the second Mallorcan to hold this position. Félix Pons, like Armengol and Sánchez a member of the PSOE socialist party, was speaker from 1986 to 1996. It is a position of considerable importance, the third most senior in Spain after the King, the Head of State, and the prime minister.

While it had been expected that Armengol would gather sufficient support, there were doubts right up to the last minute regarding the votes of two Catalan nationalist parties - Junts per Catalunya and Esquerra Republicana Catalunya. It is understood that there were intense negotiations to ensure that Armengol, who is known to have good relations with nationalist leaders, became speaker.

This appointment doesn't alter the fact that there is political uncertainty in Spain at present. The main opposition party, the Partido Popular (whose candidate for speaker amassed only 129 votes), won the most seats in Congress at July's election but is struggling for support that would see Alberto Núñez Feijóo become the next prime minister.

Sánchez and PSOE are theoretically in a position to obtain sufficient support, but this depends on nationalist parties, Junts in particular. Armengol's appointment may, however, prove to be crucial in gaining this support.