Spain edges toward political stalemate

EPA-EFE//MANUEL LORZENO

Candidates to lead the Spanish government, (L-R); leader of People's Party, Pablo Casado; leader of Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias; Spanish Prime Minister and leader of Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sanchez; and leader of Citizens, Albert Rivera take part in a second four-party debate in Madrid, 23 April 2019.

Spain edges toward political stalemate


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Neither the right nor the left appears able to master a workable majority in Spain’s forthcoming legislative elections on 28 April, according to the latest 40dB poll commissioned by Spanish daily El Pais.

Spain’s fringe far-right Vox party is currently polling at 12.5% nationwide, while the Liberal Ciudadanos is garnering 14.1% of the electorate’s support, and the centre-right Popular Party is polling at only 17.8%. With just under 45%, a three-party coalition government would not be able to form a government. They would only be able to hold 156 seats in a parliament that requires 176 seats to form a majority.

On the other side of the spectrum, the centre-left Socialist Party (PSOE) is polling at just 28.8% and the far-left Unidos Podemos at 13.2%. The two parties would also be unable to form a majority with such weak support. They would need the support of the Basque and Catalan nationalist parties. And even then, this would be a razor-thin majority.

This places the incumbent Socialism prime minister in a difficult spot as he is asked to address the issue of Catalan secessionist movement. The PSOE is against both secession and a referendum on independence, but must retain nationalist support from the two pro-secessionist regional parties to govern.

At the same time, the willingness of PP and Ciudadanos to form a coalition government with the far-right Vox is galvanising the right.

Vox has taken a number of controversial policy positions against feminism and in defence of the legacy of the country’s former Fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. Vox has echoed US President Donald J. Trump in calling for the construction of a wall around the Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and promising that Morocco will pay for it.

The Popular Party’s leader, Pablo Casado, has taken a hard line in an attempt to stop the loss of right-wing voters to Vox.  The 38-year-old lawyer is running a campaign emphasising his support for the monarchy and the Catholic Church, whilst endorsing the anti-migration, anti-abortion, and anti-euthanasia agenda of the far-right. He is calling Sanchez a “traitor” for allowing himself to talk with secessionist radicals in Catalonia and claimed that Sanchez is negotiating an independence referendum behind the scenes.

Sanchez has tried to focus the public’s attention of his administration’s social achievements when it comes to women’s rights, the minimum wage hike of 22%, and programmes against youth unemployment. He also offered assurance that a Socialist government would never approve a Catalan independence referendum.

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