Rajoy Reiterates Call for Left-Right Coalition in Spain

The conservative party leader will seek a deal with the Socialists if both again fall short of a majority.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain visits his People's Party's headquarters in Madrid, March 29
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visits his People’s Party’s headquarters in Madrid, March 29 (PP)

Spain’s conservative party leader and caretaker prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, reiterated his support for a coalition with the center-left Socialists in an interview with the Financial Times, saying, “A grand coalition would be the best thing for Spain.”

We would be many. We would have a majority. We could push through reforms. And we could work together at the European level.

The Socialists spurned Rajoy’s offer after the last election in December gave neither mainstream party an absolute majority in parliament.

It was the first time since democracy was restored in Spain that its politicians needed to form a coalition government and it did not go well. The Socialists made common cause with the liberal Ciudadanos but failed to win a confidence vote in parliament when the far-left Podemos party voted down the pact.

Socialist dilemma

Rajoy, whose People’s Party is likely to win the most seats again in another election next month, is hoping the Socialists will come around if they fall short of a majority a second time.

A new alliance on the left between Podemos and the communists could even push the Socialists into third place.

But their dilemma is the same: Do a deal with Rajoy and lose the trust of left-wing voters or join hands with Podemos and lose the support of voters in the middle.

Liberal option

Rajoy’s other option is a coalition with the Ciudadanos, provided they win a dozen more seats between them.

The two parties share a pro-market outlook, but the liberals have demanded Rajoy’s resignation as the price for any agreement.

The conservative leader rejected this out of hand, telling the Financial Times, “It is rather curious that a party with forty seats in parliament tells a party with 123 seats to get rid of its leader.”

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