Spain’s Election Impasse

On 25th September there will be a vote in the Congress of Deputies. This vote will confirm who is to be the next Spanish Prime Minister. The problem is that after two separate elections, no party has a majority and coalitions haven’t been formed between different organisations. Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party (PP) is the largest in the Congress of Deputies but all other political parties have repeatedly said that Rajoy cannot be allowed to continue as Prime Minister. If this impasse isn’t broken the country may be on the verge of a third general election.

According to El Pais, PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez has said that while there is goodwill between his party, Podemos, and Ciudadanos “it is mathematically possible, [but] politically unfeasible”. This is the root of the impasse. The first two election results have shown a fragmentation of political opinion in Spain, and the two-party system has clearly broken down. The response to this has to be co-operation between these parties to get Spain moving in a different direction.
The only thing that PSOE, Ciudadanos, and Podemos all agree on is their opposition to continued rule by the PP. Unfortunately there is little else these parties can agree upon. A short-term solution is to thrash out a confidence and supply arrangement to lock the PP out of power. This is difficult because Ciudadanos has centre-left and centre-right policies as well as some curiously populist elements, however a basic agreement could be reached.
For example the Ciudadanos has a series of economic, constitutional, and social policies that Podemos and PSOE could agree to. Specifically, PSOE, Podemos, and Ciudadanos could agree to matching maternity and paternity leave, improving equality legislation, investing in R&D, and many other policies of Ciudadanos. If a unity government as formed with a very specific policy agenda for the entire legislative term, Spain could move forward is a significantly left-wing direction as there is overlap between these three parties. The question would be whether there is the political will to do so.
Ciudadanos have some policies that could lead to co-operation with parties of the Left. (Vincente Vallejo Demotix/Corbis)
A long-term solution is for parties of the Left to stand together under one electoral banner. In the second election this actually happened as Podemos, Izquierda Unida, and other left-wing parties came together, but I believe this approach should go further. In parliamentary seats where it is a straight fight between the PP and a party of the Left it makes no sense to split the vote.
Although there are significant policy differences, I believe that the only way to build the Left in Spain is to have an open dialogue between Podemos, IU, and PSOE. This doesn’t mean combining all left-of-centre parties into one organisation, but if PSOE dropped out of some seats to leave a two horse race between Podemos and the PP, and Podemos did the same in some other seats, left-wing parties would have a majority and future deadlocks can be avoided. As someone who is incredibly left-wing I would prefer a IU/Podemos majority, but that isn’t going to happen whilst people cling to PSOE. There needs to be an open dialogue so that the Left can reverse the austerity imposed upon the Spanish people.
Spain is deadlocked because there is a lack of political will. The PP may have won the plurality of the national vote but a majority do not want Rajoy to return as Prime Minister. Podemos, PSOE, IU, and Ciudadanos need to work together at this time so Spain can flourish. If the Left gets into power, it can run in the next election on the record of that government, and be re-elected without Ciudadanos. There are many policies of Ciudadanos that the Left should be highly opposed to, but if certain things were picked out of their manifesto I’m sure that PSOE and Podemos could work with them to throe Rajoy out on his arse.

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