Social Democrats in Iberia and Scandinavia Try Opposite Strategies

Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2
Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2 (Governo da República Portuguesa/Clara Azevedo)

What is the future of European social democracy? Your answer to that question may depend on where you live.

If you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s cooperation with the far left. Social democrats in Portugal and Spain have come to power under deals with far-left parties. In both cases, unwieldy coalitions were greeted with skepticism, but now Prime Ministers António Costa and Pedro Sánchez are riding high in the polls.

In Greece, Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party has even supplanted the center-left altogether.

In Scandinavia, by contrast, social democrats are trying to win back working-class voters by taking a harder line on borders, crime and defense.

Both strategies appear to be working. Read more

Abandoned by Allies, Spain’s Sánchez Loses Spending Vote

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17 (La Moncloa)

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez has lost his first big parliamentary vote, exposing the weakness of his minority government and blocking one of his priorities: to raise public spending. Read more

Spain’s Rajoy Forced Out, Sánchez Elected Prime Minister

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has lost a confidence vote in parliament in the wake of a corruption scandal in his conservative party.
  • The Socialist Party’s Pedro Sánchez takes his place with the support of far-left and regionalist parties. Read more

Spanish Left Pays Price for Choosing Purists Over Pragmatists

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 ruling People’s Party continues to fall in the polls. Its support is down from 33 percent in the last election to under 25 percent in most recent surveys. The reasons are corruption scandals and the ongoing Catalan independence crisis.

The liberal Citizens, who support — but are not a part of — Mariano Rajoy’s government, are up. Some polls even have them as the largest party of Spain. Their promise to clean up politics, and the hard line they have taken against the Catalan separatists, is resonating with center-right voters.

The left, El País points out, seems unable to exploit Rajoy’s unpopularity. Support for the mainstream Socialist Party is virtually unchanged at 20-22 percent. The far-left Podemos is down several points. Read more

Catalan Socialists Choose Opposition Over Deal with Separatists

Catalonia's Miquel Iceta addresses a Spanish Socialist Party congress in Alcalá de Henares, November 11
Catalonia’s Miquel Iceta addresses a Spanish Socialist Party congress in Alcalá de Henares, November 11 (PSOE)

Catalonia’s Socialists have taken themselves out of contention for the next coalition government by refusing deals with parties that, in the words of leader Miquel Iceta, have taken the region “to the brink of the abyss.”

Even if the European Democratic Party and the Republican Left, which jointly ruled Catalonia until the regional government was dissolved by Madrid, renounce secession, the Socialists would still not partner with them, Iceta said in a television interview.

Nor would he commit to a unionist pact with center-right parties, thus condemning the Socialists to four more years in opposition. Read more

Suspension of Catalan Home Rule Divides Spain’s Socialists

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez answers questions from reporters in Brussels, October 18
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez answers questions from reporters in Brussels, October 18 (PSOE)

The Spanish Socialist Party’s support for the suspension of Catalan home rule has triggered defections from prominent party members in the region, including the mayors of Castellar del Vallès, Granollers and Terrassa as well as the party secretary in Manresa.

Àngel Ros, the mayor of Lleida, said that when he heard Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announce the abrogation of self-government on Saturday, “I thought of all it cost us to fight Francoism and gain freedom and democracy.” Read more

Sánchez Makes Good on Promise to Move Spain’s Socialists to the Left

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)

Pedro Sánchez is making good on his promise to move Spain’s Socialist Party to the left.

In the clearest sign yet of a new program, the Socialists refused to vote for a European trade pact with Canada in the national legislature last week.

Their deputies in the European Parliament did endorse the treaty when it came up for a vote there in February.

The ruling conservatives managed to ratify the treaty anyway with support from smaller parties in the center. But the Socialists’ abstention is a sign of things to come. Read more