There is hope here in Catalonia that the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will be more conciliatory than the last. But he mustn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, I argue in an op-ed for the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper.
Mariano Rajoy denied the Catalans a referendum on independence and radicalized the region’s autonomy movement. Whereas only one in five Catalans wanted to secede from Spain when he took office, now 40 to 50 percent do.
Similarly, in the Basque Country, only one in five want to break away. But many more want a referendum. The Basques, whose culture and language predate Spain’s, believe they have a right to self-determination.
Sánchez, so far, disagrees. But he has shown magnanimity toward the Catalans, lifting spending controls on the regional government and raising the possibility of constitutional reform. Sánchez shouldn’t fear a federal Spain, I write — and he has no time to lose.
His Socialist government has a majority of four. Right-wing parties oppose more autonomy for the Basque Country and Catalonia. The liberal Citizens, who take the hardest line, are the biggest party in the polls. If Sánchez wants to make his mark, he must do so before elections in 2020.
It was the result Spain’s Socialist bigwigs had feared: a resounding victory for Pedro Sánchez in their party’s primary on Sunday, beating Andalusia premier Susana Díaz and former Basque premier Patxi López to become leader for a second time.
Many had believed Sánchez was dead and buried last autumn, when his first spell as leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) ended in acrimony. His ouster had been triggered by two poor general election results, followed by a refusal to abstain in a parliamentary investiture vote in order to allow Mariano Rajoy to form a new conservative administration.
But this has been one of the unlikeliest political resurrections Spain has seen, made possible by an equally unlikely makeover on the part of Sánchez. Read more “Pedro Sánchez 2.0”
Spain’s Socialist Party is split. Half its executive committee resigned on Wednesday in a bid to oust Pedro Sánchez, the party leader, but Sánchez and his loyalists are pressing ahead with their plan to call a party congress and leadership election in the autumn in an attempt to demonstrate grassroots support.
Politico argues that the odds are against Sánchez. His party governs in seven of Spain’s seventeen regions, and only one regional leader backs him.
The polls for this weekend’s elections in Spain have been pretty consistent. The results are likely to repeat the electoral stalemate of the last election, in December. The conservative People’s Party will be the largest, but it, and the center-right Ciudadanos, will not win enough seats to form a government. The only difference this time is that the Unidos Podemos, a coalition of the anti-establishment Podemos party and the far-left Izquierda Unida, would replace the Socialists as the second largest party in parliament. According to one poll, the combined left could come close to an absolute majority.
All of this is a nightmare for Pedro Sánchez, the youthful Socialist Party leader. He looks set to face a number of options, all of them bad for him and his party.
Sánchez will be the leader of the third party and no longer the leader of the Spanish left. He will have the power to decide who governs, but neither of his coalition options would please what is left of his supporters. Read more “Pedro Sánchez: The Man Without Options”
If outgoing Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy was waiting for his Socialist Party rival to fail at forming a coalition government, he may have underestimated Pedro Sánchez’s agility.
The left-wing party leader was reported to be close to reaching a deal with the liberal Ciudadanos on Tuesday, which would be the first step toward finding a majority in parliament.
The Ciudadanos and the Socialists do not command a majority between them. Nor does Rajoy’s People’s Party, which went down from 187 to 123 seats in December’s election.
A right-wing pact between Rajoy’s conservatives and the forty members of the Ciudadanos would come close to the 176 seats needed for a majority. But it now seems more likely that Sánchez will succeed in getting the third- and fourth largest parties to support him instead. Read more “Agile Sánchez Seen Putting Together Coalition in Spain”