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Spain's political deadlock continues

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Spain's political deadlock continues

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On Friday, for the second time in 48 hours Mariano Rajoy failed to form a government in the Spanish Parliament. The acting prime minister of eight months needed 11 abstentions.

Déjà vu

However, the same 180 deputies who voted against Rajoy on Wednesday, including the Socialists and Podemos, did so again.

The 170 votes Rajoy obtained from his own party the PP and centrists from Ciudadanos were not enough for him to take up office.

A third election in a year?

The stalemate looks set to continue despite Spain already holding two elections within seven months of each other this year.

“Now, a new phase is opening up that could last for up to two months as the political forces attempt to reach a different agreement than that set out by Rajoy,” political analyst Fernando Vallespín told Euronews.

“So as the de facto leader of the opposition, Pedro Sánchez or the socialists, like other parties, may start the process of bringing forward another candidate for the nomination. That could even be Rajoy though only, I believe, if he is sure to win.”

The effect of regional elections

Movement looks unlikely before 25th September, when the regional elections in Galicia and the Basque Country take place. The results of those could strengthen or weaken the Conservatives’ (The Peoples Party or ‘PP’) position.

Fernando Vallespín set out the current fault-lines in Spain, explaining: “The elections in the Basque Country and Galicia will, I think, prevent the political parties and groups from reaching an agreement before this date as we are entering campaign time in these two regions. And these are two very sensitive areas, because in Galicia the PP is dominant and in the Basque Country Podemos has a huge presence and so too of course do the (Basque) nationalists.”

Acting President only

Mariano Rajoy has been in power since 2011, he won the elections in December and June. He insists that he has the right to govern and the PP say they are united behind their candidate. Yet he continues to fail to find enough support among other parties.

We asked Fernando Vallespín why this was the case, he said: “The PP is the only party in the Spanish political system that has not had renewed leadership since the political crisis in Spain. A political crisis, which I insist, is the product of the economic crisis. In this sense Rajoy is singled out, as ultimately responsible for a party that is currently embroiled in many judicial investigations looking into corruption networks. This obviously makes forging pacts particularly difficult.”

The newcomers

The emergence of two new parties, the left wing Podemos and centrists Ciudadanos, ended absolute majorities in the Spanish Parliament. Although weakened, the two major parties the PP and the socialists, the PSOE still hold the lead. How can this deadlock be broken?

Fernando Vallespín says: “The only thing blocking support for the PP is Rajoy himself. The PP will not renounce Rajoy as candidate for president, of that I have no doubt. So on this side there is no possibility of reaching a nomination. And even if the Socialist Party wanted to do something with Podemos, and Podemos seem ready for that, the (PSOE) is a long way from having the necessary seats to form a working majority. So it’s a perfect stalemate.”

Electoral reform?

To avoid this kind of deadlock, countries like France have a two-round-voting system, others like Greece and Italy offer bonus seats to the outright winner. Is this feasible for Spain?

Fernando Vallespín gave his opinion on how this could play out: “Electoral system reform in Spain is taking on a different shape. The majority of political forces are in favour of reform that would encourage more proportionality. So I think we have to enter into a culture of pacts, it seems clear to me. In Spain, it’s something we don’t have on a national scale even though it exists at regional and local levels. We should promote this culture of pacts, and above all I think we must adapt our politics once again to the new sociological conditions in the country because they are what has really caused this political situation.”

So it seems that the current impasse could lead Spain into a new political era of cross-party collaboration. Many will be hoping that this is sooner rather than later.

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