A Failure of Leadership in Spain

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at parliament in Madrid, October 29, 2016
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy arrives at parliament in Madrid, October 29, 2016 (La Moncloa)

The unstoppable force of Catalan separatism is about to meet the unmovable object that is Mariano Rajoy.

The Spanish prime minister and conservative party leader has vowed to prevent an independence referendum in the northeastern region at all costs. The Catalans are determined to vote anyway.

Neither side will be able to claim victory on Monday.

Rajoy may succeed in blocking the vote, but his intransigence has already convinced moderate Catalans there isn’t a future for them in Spain. The separatists may manage to organize a referendum, but it will be so marred by illegality and irregularity that the outcome cannot possibly be considered a mandate to break away. Read more

Rajoy’s Attitude Makes Catalan Secession More Likely

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, May 17
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, May 17 (La Moncloa)

Whatever happened to Mariano Rajoy’s willingness to talk?

In February, he offered to hear out Catalan demands for self-government except one: holding a binding independence referendum.

Now instead of sitting down with Carles Puigdemont, the Catalan president, Rajoy has avoided meeting him in Madrid and challenged him to what could only be a fruitless debate in the national parliament. Read more

Rajoy’s Confirmation Hinges on Socialist Abstention

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015 (PSOE)

Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, is due to seek parliament’s support for a second term on Tuesday but knows that his chances are slim.

“There is a serious risk of having to call a third election in the same year,” he warned supporters of his conservative People’s Party in Galicia this weekend.

Spaniards returned to the polls in June after the parties failed to put together a coalition government in the wake of the election in December. Neither major party commands an absolute majority, however, and the left-wing Socialists have said they will not vote for the right-wing Rajoy. If they refuse to budge, a third election may be inevitable. Read more

Rajoy Gets Closer to Second Term as Liberals May Abstain

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and members of his cabinet attend a session of parliament in Madrid, June 11, 2014
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and members of his cabinet attend a session of parliament in Madrid, June 11, 2014 (La Moncloa)

Spain’s acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, edged closer to winning a second term on Tuesday when the head of the fourth largest party in parliament suggested they might abstain in a confirmation vote.

Albert Rivera, the leader of the liberal Ciudadanos, told reporters after a meeting with Rajoy that the country needs to “get moving” and cannot have a third election.

“We’re not going to be in government,” he said, “but we’re realistic, responsible and constructive.” Read more

Spain’s Rajoy Pours Cold Water on Scottish EU Hopes

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy meets with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, June 28
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy meets with other European conservative leaders in Brussels, June 28 (EPP)

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has poured cold water on Scotland’s hopes of staying in the EU without leaving the United Kingdom.

“The United Kingdom leaves and with it all those who make up the United Kingdom,” Rajoy said on Wednesday after meeting with other leaders in Brussels.

I want to be very clear: Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union.

Rajoy, a Spanish nationalist, worries about setting a precedent that would encourage the independence movement in Catalonia. Read more

The Rajoy School of Political Science

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy looks out the window of a cable car in Sóller, Majorca, June 22
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy looks out the window of a cable car in Sóller, Majorca, June 22 (PP)

Napoleon famously regarded luck as the most important quality in his generals. We may need to apply the same thinking to politics, or at least Spanish politics.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy seems to be developing an entire political theory based around luck.

He would not put it quite like that. He would presumably argue that his continued success against all the odds is down to his political acumen and skills. But that is not how others see it. Read more

Rajoy Vindicated, Grows Party in Spain’s Reelections

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain gives a speech in Las Palmas, June 18
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain gives a speech in Las Palmas, June 18 (PP)

The polls had it wrong. The ruling conservative party in Spain won a much stronger plurality than expected on Sunday with 33 percent support. Surveys had given it 28 to 30 percent.

Even more surprisingly, the mainstream Socialists defended their leadership on the left, beating the anti-establishment Podemos party into third place.

The polls had shown the two neck and neck with some predicting a Podemos victory over the Socialists.

In the end, Podemos won 71 seats, exactly the number it did in December, while the Socialists got 85, down by five.

That means there’s no real chance of an all-left government. Read more