An uncertain government, but a government at last

This week marked the one-year anniversary of the provisional Spanish Government. On the 27th of October 2015, the Official Journal announced the dissolution of parliament and called for elections to be held on the 20th December. After two elections, it seems that by the end of the week, Spain will have at least a new Prime Minister, thanks to the abstention by the Socialist Party (PSOE).

The big winner in this whole process has been the conservative Partido Popular (PP), whose leader will once again be Prime Minister. The victory came as a suprise, as it was not predicted even by the most favourable of forecasts. With the PP being used to governing with Royal Decree, where there is no need to negotiate with anyone, the party’s future will be difficult in a hung parliament.

The big loser is the Socialist Party, which has had to choose abstention as a lesser evil, allowing Mariano Rajoy to be Prime Minister, whilst undergoing a major internal restructuring process.

After the 2015 December elections, the Socialist Party managed to come to an agreement with centrist Ciudadanos to try to snatch the government away from the PP. They failed, as they did not manage to convince Podemos (a radical left party). Podemos achieved a significant result, imposing conditions that were difficult to accept for both the socialists and Ciudadanos’ centrists.

Now, after the worst election results for the party since the arrival of democracy, and the costly refusal by its leader Pedro Sánchez, to make any concession to the PP, the socialists have forced their leader to resign and voted for their MPs to respect an abstention vote. It may have been a tough decision, but it signifies an honourable way out of a potentially catastrophic third election, according to poll predictions.

PSOE threw away the golden opportunity to use the offer of their support to negotiate with the PP after the elections in June. Already in stoppage time and teetering on the edge of the abyss, they will abstain and allow the PP to govern without any conditions.

The conditions however, will come later on. The PP will have no choice but to learn to negotiate and reach agreements with those who support them (Ciudadanos and the nationalist Coalición Canaria) and those who have allowed them to form a government (PSOE). Otherwise, although Spain will have a government in November 2016, it will not have one by 2018, when it will be impossible to pass the National Budget.

Looking at the economy, the stock market rose in response to PSOE’s decision to allow a government to form. While at the same time, Brussels reminded Spain of the need to balance its’ public deficit. It will be interesting to see how the parties reach an agreement regarding the necessary economic measures to accomplish this task. Whilst at the same time, knowing that a large proportion of society would prefer a different government (the PP obtained the 33% of the votes), and that Podemos will want to remind people of this, and to seek social mobilisation under the banner of true reformism.

Words Yolanda Vega (Burson-Marsteller Spain)
Photos CC/Flickr Puroticorico

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