Spain Will Almost Certainly Have to Call Elections Again

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera speak in Madrid, February 4, 2016
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 three 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 middle incomes and pardons for separatist leaders who are on trial for organizing an unauthorized independence vote in the northeastern region two years ago.

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

Polls suggest the Citizens stand the most to lose from early elections. 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 started. Read more

Spanish Parties Break Cardinal Rules of Coalition Politics

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

Spanish parties have broken the cardinal rules of coalition politics. As a result, the country may need to go to elections for the fourth time in as many years.

Outgoing prime minister Pedro Sánchez has one last chance to stay in power. If the far-left Podemos supports him after all, and the Catalan independence parties abstain from today’s investiture vote, he could scrape by with the smallest possible majority.

But if either sticks to its guns, the Socialists would either have to nominate another candidate (unlikely) or call snap elections in the autumn. Read more

Spanish Politicians Need to Come to Grips with Coalition Politics

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

Spanish politicians are still coming to grips with coalition politics.

Both at the national and the regional level, parties are reluctant to make compromises and blaming each other for making deals with different parties. Read more

Spain’s Social Democrats Buck European Trend

Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2, 2018
Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2, 2018 (Governo da República Portuguesa/Clara Azevedo)

Spain’s are among few social democrats in Europe who have figured out how to thrive in a new political reality.

Although the 30 percent support Pedro Sánchez is projected to win Sunday night is a far cry from the 48 percent support the Socialists won at the peak of their popularity in the 1980s, it is a significant improvement on the last two election results (22 percent in both 2015 and 2016) and almost double what the conservative People’s Party, for decades the dominant party on the right, has managed. Read more

Sánchez Is the Reasonable Choice in Spain’s Election

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez arrives in Salzburg, Austria for a meeting with other European socialist party leaders, September 19, 2018
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez arrives in Salzburg, Austria for a meeting with other European socialist party leaders, September 19, 2018 (PES)

As long as Spain’s mainstream right would rather do a deal with the far right than the center-left, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ Socialists are the most reasonable choice in the country’s general election on Sunday.

Sánchez’ only possible partners are the far-left Podemos and regionalists from the Basque Country, the Canary Islands, Catalonia and Valencia. Even if, as the polls predict, the Socialists expand their plurality in Congress, the next coalition government could be unwieldy.

Podemos will require concessions and its platform is full of unwise proposals, from abolishing spy agencies to nationalizing energy companies to withdrawing from international trade deals.

If the regionalists end up as kingmakers, they can be expected to leverage their position to extract more money from Madrid. The two largest parties in Catalonia insist they will only back Sánchez if he comes out in favor of a legal independence referendum. Sánchez insists he won’t.

But those complications are preferable to the alternative: a hard-right government that would need the Franco apologists in Vox for its majority and exacerbate the separatist crisis in Catalonia by once again suspending self-government in this part of Spain. Read more

Spanish Socialists Benefit from Division on the Right

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

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez is benefiting from a three-way fight on the right. With the conservative People’s Party, the liberal Citizens and the far-right Vox splitting the right-wing vote, Sánchez’ Socialist Party is likely to come out on top in elections later this month.

The question will be if Sánchez can form a coalition government with the far-left Podemos and regionalists from the Basque Country — or if he will need the support of Catalan nationalists, who sunk his previous government when Sánchez refused them a legal referendum on independence. Read more

Spanish Parties Rule Out Centrist Coalition After Election

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

Spain’s liberal Citizens have ruled out a pact with outgoing prime minister Pedro Sánchez while the Catalan branch of his Socialist Party has said it will not support a deal with right-wing parties — making a centrist coalition after the election in April impossible. Read more