The Strategist

Coalition political crisis in Spain is heating up

06/27/2016 - 14:51

Once again, Spain is faced with difficult negotiations on formation of a ruling coalition and the government. This follows from results of the early parliamentary elections, which have become the second confirmation that the bipartisan Spanish system existed for decades is gone. The first place in the voting was taken by right-wing People's Party ruled by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Now, the "populists" will try to find allies among other parties.

ReelNews via youtube
ReelNews via youtube
"We have won, and we have a right to come to power", - Mariano Rajoy said, commenting on the election’s results. His party won 137 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies, the lower house of the parliament. The "populists" had 14 seats less in the last Congress.

Formation of the government requres 176 votes, so now the People's Party has to prepare for a difficult search for allies. Mariano Rajoy has promised to immediately start negotiations "with the sole purpose - to defend Spain." One of possible options would be a coalition with the centrist party Ciudadanos ("Citizens"), which won 32 seats (8 less than in the December elections). However, even this will not be enough: in case of agreement, the coalition will get 169 votes.

Another next step forward was suggested by Pablo Iglesias, the leftist leader of Podemos ("We can") party. The latter was presented as a part of the block Unidos, Podemos ("Together, we can"), received 71 seats. After the results were unveiled, Mr. Iglesias reiterated that he is offering a coalition to the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (85 deputies). However, the reaction did not meet his expectations. On the contrary, socialist Pedro Sanchez criticized the leader of Podemos, because he "has put personal interests above interests of the left wing, which led to improvement in the right-wing results." 

Thus, the vote did not help to solve the riddle of who will be the next prime minister of Spain.

In December last year, talks on forming a ruling coalition have started in Spain. This case is the first time in the country’s modern history. The ruling People's Party won the first place in the parliamentary elections, but will not be able to form a government on their own. Their eternal rivals, socialists, got ahead of Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, by only 1.35%. To stop Podemos from seizing power, the other major parties can form a broad coalition after the German fashion. Pption of a minority government is also possible. However, none of these schemes would be stable.

A coalition of bitter rivals for tactical reasons is not a unique phenomenon. For example, from 2013 Germany has been ruled by the government led by the conservative bloc CDU/CSU and the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

The second most important man in the Socialist party Cesar Luena assured that his party would oppose re-election of Mariano Rajoy as prime minister. However, the intrigue remains. The first findings on how viable the idea of combining the two leading political forces of Spain is will come in the course of harmonizing the candidacy of next head of the government.