Spain avoids third general election as socialists finally accept minority opposition Government

Updated 24 October: PSOE delegates have voted not to continue to oppose Mariano Rajoy’s attempt to form a minority Government. The Socialists’ abstention will end a ten-month gridlock in Spanish politics, and avoid a third general election.

The decision is not without dissent in the PSOE. Party caretaker leader Javier Fernández says that the decision is the lesser of two evils, and that continued opposition to a PP minority Government would end with the PSOE itself being further punished in the polls. Others, however, say that the PSOE will now haemorrhage those who cannot stomach even tacit support for the PP, and that there will be a stampede to other left-wing parties, most notably Podemos.

Party leaders are expected to meet with King Felipe over the next two days, with an investiture – and some normal government – to follow in short order.

Updated 2 October: Just after I’d made the post below the other day, 17 of the 38 members of the PSOE’s National Executive Committee resigned in an attempt to force out party leader, Pedro Sánchez. The committee was already lacking three members after two had resigned and one died, and so with a membership of 50% required to be quorate, it could no longer operate. An “express congress” was called, and yesterday, after losing a vote of confidence in his leadership, Sánchez resigned.

The socialists will now have a caretaker leader – Susana Díaz, a powerful figure in the Andalusia PSOE, is tipped for the job – while the party goes through the procedures to select its next leader. More significantly in wider terms, however, without Sánchez at the helm, the PSOE is now likely to abstain in a vote for Mariano Rajoy to form a minority PP (equivalent to the Conservatives) Government, meaning that the country will not have to be put through a third general election this year.

What this will mean specifically for the Canaries, and for Granadilla, we will no doubt see in due course, but given the political stalemate in Spain throughout this year, and its ramifications on approval of regional measures as I posted HERE yesterday, any Government is better than no Government at all!

Original post 28 September: All hell has broken loose in Granadilla, with a new regime taking over after opposition parties united to force out socialist mayor Jaime González Cejas with a motion of censure. The PSOE has retaliated by breaking off political pacts in the borough, but the upheaval doesn’t stop there because the regional Government itself, which relies on pacts between the political parties, has itself been unsettled.

In Granadilla, strong warnings and a last minute ultimatum of political pact ruptures failed to make the Coalición Canaria withdraw the motion, and at midday yesterday a full session of the council witnessed incredible scenes, with one side of the chamber standing to applaud Cejas as he arrived, and the other, comprising the CC, PP, and Ciudadanos, remaining seated in stony silence. And after the complaints against the PSOE administration were read out, including the old familiars of illegal licences and corruption, the pleno confirmed the CC’s José Domingo Regalado as mayor, replacing Cejas who, with only a four-year gap between 2007 and 2011, has been mayor of Granadilla since 1991.

At the same time as shouts of “traitor” and “back-stabber” were ringing in the local council chamber, the Canarian Parliament itself was meeting, and the full effects of the Granadilla situation on the regional Government are yet to become clear since mutual support was a fundamental condition of the CC/PSOE pact in the Canaries. High level meetings will follow over the next week or so to determine how the PSOE at regional level will react, but it is unlikely to be until 8 October, and a main regional committee meeting, before any firm decision is taken. Meanwhile, the regional Government is hanging by a thread, broken in all but name, and the Canaries will essentially be governed at insular level by the Cabildos.

Even further afield, it is far from clear how this will play out on the national stage, where no one party is able to rule absolutely and pacts are formed … and then undermined by existing hostilities. Spain is already struggling politically in the face of a prospective third general election, and the Socialists are under pressure nationally to allow the Partido Popular to form a minority Government to avoid that outcome, pressure which has been increased by recent regional elections in northern Spain in which the PSOE vote slipped. And within the Socialists themselves, party leader Pedro Sanchez is under siege from the PSOE’s own grandees, including former PM Felipe González, for holding out for an election in which the party is likely to do even worse than it did on the last two occasions.

Granadilla seems to be a microcosm of the situation in Spain, where corruption, or at least the accusation of corruption, is endemic, stability seems impossible to create, and visceral hatreds have to co-exist with political pragmatism … and sometimes lose.


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