Repeal of Spanish Labor Reforms Is Unwise

Madrid Spain
Skyline of Madrid, Spain (Unsplash/Alex Azabache)

Spain’s ruling left-wing parties have agreed to reverse the labor market liberalizations of the previous, conservative government, which made it easier for firms to hire and fire workers.

The decision is hard to justify even by the standards set by proponents of repeal. The reforms did not create more precarious jobs, they did not cause higher structural unemployment, and they barely made a dent in wages. Read more “Repeal of Spanish Labor Reforms Is Unwise”

Socialists Miss Opportunity in Catalonia

Salvador Illa
Spanish health minister Salvador Illa listens to a debate in Congress in Madrid, October 28, 2020 (PSOE/Eva Ercolanese)

With two weeks left before snap elections would automatically be called, Catalonia’s leading separatist party, the Republican Left, still doesn’t have support to form either a majority or a minority regional government.

The Republicans floated the possibility of a minority government after weeks of negotiations with the second independence party, Together for Catalonia (Junts), led nowhere. But even a minority government would need the backing of Junts to win more votes than the unionists, who have 53 out of 135 seats in the Catalan parliament.

The dispute centers on Junts‘ desire to push forward with Catalan independence from Spain whereas the Republicans want to give talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez about more autonomy a chance. (Talks which have barely begun.) Junts is driving the negotiations to a head, because it thinks the Republicans have no alternative.

So if you’re a clever opposition party, you give them an alternative. Read more “Socialists Miss Opportunity in Catalonia”

Sánchez Needs to Remember Who His Friends Are

Frans Timmermans Nicola Zingaretti Pedro Sánchez
Dutch, Italian and Spanish socialist party leaders Frans Timmermans, Nicola Zingaretti and Pedro Sánchez meet in Brussels, March 21, 2019 (PES)

It is time for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to accept that little more will come of his overtures to Spain’s conservative opposition.

Sánchez, a social democrat who rules in coalition with the far-left Podemos (We Can), came to power with the support of Basque, Catalan and other regional parties.

But since the outbreak of coronavirus disease, he has tried to build broader support for his recovery programs.

I argued in July that Sánchez was walking a fine line. Make too many compromises with the right and Podemos and the Catalan Republican Left could feel betrayed.

That point is approaching fast. Read more “Sánchez Needs to Remember Who His Friends Are”

Sánchez Walks Fine Line Between Left and Right

Pedro Sánchez
Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party leader Pedro Sánchez answers questions from reporters in Madrid, January 22, 2016 (PSOE)

With support from the pro-independence Catalan left weakening, Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez is reaching out to the center-right.

The liberal-nationalist Citizens are shifting back to the center under their new leader, Inés Arrimadas, after a disastrous lurch to the right in the last election. They have largely supported Sánchez’ emergency measures to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed at least 28,000 Spaniards. The party has pledged to vote for three out of four proposed recovery programs, except the one for social policy.

Even the conservative People’s Party, which only a few months ago called Sánchez a “traitor” for doing a deal with Basque and Catalan separatists and then accused him of lying about the true death toll of the pandemic, has suggested it could support some of the policies, which include tax hikes and loans to small businesses.

With tourism, normally one-sixth of the economy, drying up, unemployment is projected to reach 19 percent. (It would be worse without the furloughing system ERTE.) The central bank expects the economy will contract between 9 and 15 percent this year before growing 7-9 percent in 2021. Read more “Sánchez Walks Fine Line Between Left and Right”

Sánchez Close to Forming Coalition Government in Spain

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

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez is closing in on a deal with Catalan separatists to remain in power.

The caretaker prime minister has the support of the far left to form a new government, but he also needs the backing of regional parties, who hold the balance of power in Congress.

Sánchez’ Socialist Party does not have a majority of its own. Read more “Sánchez Close to Forming Coalition Government in Spain”

Now the Hard Part: Convincing the Catalans

Pedro Sánchez Christian Kern António Costa
Spanish, Austrian and Portuguese social democratic party leaders Pedro Sánchez, Christian Kern and António Costa attend a meeting in Lisbon, December 2, 2017 (PES)

21 seats short of a majority in Congress, Spain’s Pedro Sánchez still need either the support or acquiescence of smaller parties to serve a second term as prime minister.

So far, the signs are not encouraging. Read more “Now the Hard Part: Convincing the Catalans”

Spanish Socialists Offend Parties They Need to Govern

Pedro Sánchez
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez speaks at a congress of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in Huesca, October 1 (PSOE/Eva Ercolanese)

Last night, I argued the problem in Spain is that the country has a multiparty system but the two major parties, the Socialists and the conservatives, still have a two-party-system mindset.

Look no further than José Luis Ábalos, organizational secretary of the Socialist Party, who on Monday insulted the very parties his needs to form a government. Read more “Spanish Socialists Offend Parties They Need to Govern”

No Party or Bloc Wins Majority in Spain

  • Neither the left nor the right has won a majority in Spain. Catalan and other regional parties will hold the balance of power in the new Congress.
  • The only options for a majority government are a grand coalition of the center-left Socialists (PSOE) and center-right People’s Party (PP), which has never been tried, or a coalition of left-wing and regional parties.
  • The Socialists remain the largest party, although they are down three seats. This will be a disappointment to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who called the election in hopes of breaking the deadlock in Congress.
  • He is expected to try to form a minority government. Read more “No Party or Bloc Wins Majority in Spain”

Hard Line Against Catalans Doesn’t Help Sánchez in Polls

Pedro Sánchez
Pedro Sánchez speaks at a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, January 30, 2016 (PSOE)

If Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez was hoping that taking a harder line on the Catalan independence crisis would give his Socialist Party a boost in the next election, a look at the polls must give him second thoughts.

Since the Supreme Court convicted nine Catalan separatist leaders of sedition against the Spanish state for organizing an unsanctioned independence referendum in 2017, support for the Socialists has fallen from 28-29 to 24-25 percent.

The conservative People’s Party is up, from around 20 to 22-23 percent in the last month. The far-right Vox, which got 10 percent in the last election, is up to 13-14 percent.

Elections are due on November 10. Read more “Hard Line Against Catalans Doesn’t Help Sánchez in Polls”

Spain Will Almost Certainly Have to Call Elections Again

Pedro Sánchez Albert Rivera
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera speak in Madrid, February 4, 2016 (PSOE)

A possible last-minute deal between Spain’s ruling Socialist Party and the liberal Citizens collapsed on Tuesday, forcing caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez to either attempt a stitch-up with the far left or call elections in November, which would Spain’s fourth in as many years.

The Citizens, who had for months ruled out voting in Sánchez’ favor over his willingness to negotiate with the ruling parties in Catalonia, offered to abstain from an investiture vote if the Socialist ruled out taxes increases on the middle class and pardons for Catalan leaders who are on trial for organizing an unauthorized independence vote two years ago.

Sánchez claims he agreed to the terms; the Citizens insist he did not.

Polls suggest the Citizens could lost a quarter of their support in an early election. Their indecisiveness is causing them to lose voters to both the Socialists on the left and the People’s Party on the right.

But the Socialists are unlikely to gain enough support for a majority, meaning in two months Spain could be back where it is now. Read more “Spain Will Almost Certainly Have to Call Elections Again”