Political instability in Spain

Spanish acting Prime Minister and Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez speaks during a campaign ahead of general election, in Barcelona. Reuters

Madrid: Spain voted on Sunday in its fourth general election in as many years in a further sign of chronic political instability since the Parliament began fragmenting in December 2015. Here are some key dates:

— Since the early 1980s, power in Spain had alternated between the Socialists and the conservative Popular Party (PP).
But Dec. 20, 2015 put an end to that when two new parties, centre-right Ciudadanos and far-left Podemos, entered Parliament for the first time.
Mariano Rajoy’s PP won the most seats but lost its absolute majority in Spain’s 350-seat Parliament and was not able to cobble together a governing coalition.
Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists, which came in second but also lost ground, reached an agreement with Ciudadanos but this was not enough to form a government.
Due to the political impasse, fresh elections were held on June 26, 2016. The PP gained ground but still fell short of an absolute majority.

— Rajoy was finally sworn in for a second term as prime minister on Oct. 29, 2016, ending a 10-month spell without a government.
This was made possible because Ciudadanos voted for him in a confidence vote and the socialists abstained. Weeks earlier, the socialists had ousted their leader Sanchez who had steadfastly refused to back Rajoy’s attempts to form a government. Rajoy’s minority government managed to pass its budget in 2017 and 2018 by making generous concessions to a Basque nationalist party and regional parties from Spain’s Canary Islands.

— Sanchez made a stunning political comeback when he won his party’s primaries in May 2017. A year later, he became prime minister after ousting Rajoy in a no-confidence motion in Parliament on June 1, 2018.
Sanchez had brought the motion after the ruling PP was found guilty of benefiting from illegal funds in a massive graft trial.
Rajoy was the first premier in Spain’s modern democratic history to be ousted by Parliament after losing a confidence vote.
Sanchez won the subsequent vote with the support of a hodgepodge of different formations, including Podemos, two Catalan separatist parties and a Basque nationalist party.

— Sanchez’s minority government submitted a left-leaning budget with Podemos which boosted social spending, in the hopes of governing until the end of the current legislature in mid-2020.
But talks with Catalan separatist parties, whose demand for a legally binding independence referendum is unacceptable to Sanchez, broke down.
Without their much-needed votes, the budget was rejected in Parliament on Feb. 13 and Sanchez later called early elections for April 28.

— Sanchez won the vote but with only 123 deputies out of 350, he was forced to form alliances to govern.
However, his negotiations with Podemos, the Socialist party’s bitter rival, collapsed after four months and the PP and Ciudadanos refused to help him to form a minority government by abstaining in a confidence vote, prompting fresh elections. (AFP)

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