Following a December election that has left Spanish politics deeply fragmented, People’s Party (PP) leader, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s has been unable to secure the majority coalition he needs to rule.
Unless someone has a majority, it is the role of the king, otherwise a largely ceremonial role, to see if anyone can build a coalition. First chance goes to the party receiving the most votes.
Here’s a sequence of events with brief translations and a couple of comments from reader Bran who lives in Spain. The clips are from last Friday through today. Links are in Spanish.
- Rajoy declines the offer by the king to try to form a government. However the news is later tempered with his words “I haven’t renounced the right to be chosen, it is that right now I don’t have the votes”. Friday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/22/actualidad/1453478212_032444.html
- During the round of meetings with the king, Iglesias (leader of Podemos) announced without any warning that he would seek to form a coalition with PSOE based on proportional representation of power in the government with Sanchez as president and himself as vice president and ministers also proportionally assigned. Iglesias includes IU (left) as part of the tripartite and asks for a Catalan referendum. Apparently Sanchez was only informed of the offer when he went to meet the king. Friday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/22/actualidad/1453461680_098827.html
- Sanchez’s first reaction was a cautious welcome, saying “Voters would not understand if I and Podemos did not understand each other”. He says he will hold talks with Podemos over the weekend. However Iglesias carried on his overt approach by tweeting his position with statements like “the historic possibility that he (Sanchez) will become president is a smile from destiny that he should be thankful.” Friday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/22/actualidad/1453464023_797332.html
- Reactions of the regional heads and ex-heads of the PSOE, including previous party leader Rubalcaba was not favorable. Rubalcaba stated “It is the first time I have heard an offer of accord to form a Government while gravely insulting the party with which you hope to govern with.” There is even a new hash tag #Respetoal PSOE “Respect PSOE” Friday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/22/actualidad/1453496560_129777.html?rel=cx_articulo#cxrecs_s
- Message from Bran on Saturday: “Hello Mish, I’ll keep posting through the politics but if you are thinking of writing on it, be careful not to be caught off guard. There are more twists and turns than we might imagine.
- Rajoy, having resigned his candidature, but still offering it, launches straight into the offensive from his self-declared position of opposition, labeling Sanchez “mortgaged and undignified” for hypothetical agreements with Podemos politica. Saturday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/23/actualidad/1453545112_869649.html
- Sanchez refuses to pick up the gauntlet, broadcasting that he will not present himself as candidate for now because that right still belongs to Rajoy because PP has the most seats. Sanchez also smacked down Podemos in the process, saying his own candidacy won’t be launched by blackmail. The actual word Sanchez used is “chantaje“, which means “story telling leverage“, a bit lighter than blackmail. Saturday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/23/actualidad/1453553795_291625.html
- PP says Podemos offer to align with PSOE “causes terror in Europe“. Saturday – http://ecodiario.eleconomista.es/politica/noticias/7299394/01/16/El-PP-asegura-que-la-oferta-de-Gobierno-de-Pablo-Iglesias-ha-causado-terror-en-Europa.html
- Sanchez now says he will attempt to form a government if the king asks him to. Saturday – http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2016/01/23/actualidad/1453553795_291625.html
- Rajoy says that PSOE/Podemos coalition will not be able to govern because he will use the PP majority in the senate to block it. Saturday – http://ecodiario.eleconomista.es/politica/noticias/7299046/01/16/Rajoy-amenaza-a-la-union-PSOEPodemos-No-podran-gobernar-tenemos-la-mayoria-en-el-Senado.html
- Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece says the troika will tie the hands of a PSOE/Podemos government. Saturday – http://www.eleconomista.es/economia/noticias/7299442/01/16/Varoufakis-advierte-que-la-Troika-ataria-las-manos-de-un-Gobierno-PSOEPodemos.html
- Bran comment on Sunday: “All sorts of covert and overt activity is taking place. For now, all the political leaders reject coalitions that can reach a majority. We will have to see how the PSOE/Podemos relationship pans out, because they will still need to pick up additional seats from fringe parties to reach a majority.”
Breaking the Logjam
The Financial Times reports Podemos Proposes Leftwing Coalition to Break Spain Logjam.
The anti-austerity Podemos party on Friday made an audacious move towards breaking Spain’s post-election political logjam, proposing a three-way coalition government with the Socialists and the United Left party.
“If the PSOE [the Spanish Socialist party] wants it, there can be a government of change,” Pablo Iglesias, the Podemos leader, told a news conference in Madrid.
He was speaking after meeting Felipe VI, the Spanish monarch, whose constitutional role includes proposing the next head of government to parliament.
Another complication is that the Socialists, Podemos and the United Left would still not hold a majority in parliament. The three parties together control 161 seats in the 350-seat parliament, meaning they would be 15 votes short of an absolute majority.
To win the premiership and pass future legislation, they would need either the support or the abstention of smaller regional parties, including the two parties that support Catalan independence from Spain. For the Socialists, a party that prides itself on its staunch defence of Spanish unity, it would be a deeply uncomfortable situation.
The proposal made by Mr Iglesias marks the first concrete offer to create a left-of-centre government coalition since Spain went to the polls in December. The election produced a deeply fragmented parliament that leaves neither the right nor the left an obvious path towards a stable majority.
Mr Rajoy, the leader of the conservative Popular party, has proposed a centrist alliance between his own party, the Socialists and the centrist Ciudadanos party. The Socialists have so far rejected the prime minister’s offer.
Problems Facing Leftist Coalition
- PSOE insists Catalonia stay united with Spain
- Podemos is open to Catalan elections
- The third group of fringe parties needed to form a coalition demand Catalonia independence
Spanish Government About to Fall
The most likely possibilities are a new election (if no one can achieve a majority), or an unstable coalition of leftist parties.
Barring an unlikely last minute miracle, the government of Mariano Rajoy is over. New elections are in the cards immediately, or a bit down the road after an unstable coalition of some sort falls apart.
Either way, Rajoy is burnt toast.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock