Spain faces cru­cial week

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL - MADRID:

Spain en­tered a cru­cial week yes­ter­day as act­ing con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy pre­pared to re-take power, end­ing 10 roller­coaster months with­out govern­ment marked by hope and dis­il­lu­sion. As the coun­try headed to­wards an un­prece­dented third elec­tion in less than a year, its po­lit­i­cal fate hinged on whether the So­cial­ists would al­low a Ra­joy-led mi­nor­ity govern­ment to rule and avoid more polls, and on Sun­day they swal­lowed a bit­ter pill and voted to do so.

While con­ser­va­tives cau­tiously wel­comed the move, it will come as a blow to mil­lions of Spa­niards who voted for two up­starts they thought could bring change - far-left Pode­mos and cen­trists Ci­u­dadanosand many So­cial­ist sup­port­ers. “An im­por­tant de­ci­sion was taken yes­ter­day, and in my opin­ion a rea­son­able one,” Ra­joy tweeted yes­ter­day with his usual re­serve, as the main Ibex 35 in­dex of Spain’s stock mar­ket shot up 1.44 per­cent early af­ter­noon on news the coun­try would fi­nally get a govern­ment. The de­ci­sion caps a 10-month pe­riod that saw Spain go from ju­bi­lant hope af­ter De­cem­ber 2015 elec­tions ended the tra­di­tional two-party sys­tem to dis­il­lu­sion fol­low­ing re­peat polls in June.

Back in De­cem­ber, mil­lions of vot­ers fed up with aus­ter­ity and cor­rup­tion dur­ing Ra­joy’s four-year term had cast their bal­lot for Pode­mos and Ci­u­dadanos, led re­spec­tively by the 38-year-old Pablo Igle­sias and Al­bert Rivera, 36. This re­sulted in a frag­mented par­lia­ment where no group­ing had enough law­mak­ers to gov­ern alone, even if Ra­joy’s Pop­u­lar Party (PP) won the most seats. But party lead­ers failed to reach any kind of vi­able coali­tion deal, prompt­ing re­peat elec­tions in June with a sim­i­lar re­sult.

Ra­joy will be weak

Now Ra­joy-whose per­ceived dull­ness and mis­trust of the me­dia earned him the nick­name “plasma prime min­is­ter” af­ter he con­ducted press con­fer­ences via video screen-is poised to rule again thanks to the So­cial­ists. On Sun­day, af­ter weeks of in-fight­ing that led to the res­ig­na­tion of So­cial­ist chief Pe­dro Sanchez, 44, they voted to ab­stain in a par­lia­men­tary con­fi­dence vote on a PP govern­ment-which would give it enough trac­tion to get through the vote. “The great win­ner is Mar­i­ano Ra­joy,” said An­ton Losada, pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor at the University of Santiago de Com­postela.

“The head­line could be: 300 days later, the bor­ing plasma prime min­is­ter knocks out the three young emerg­ing lead­ers who had come to eat him alive.” Yes­ter­day, King Felipe VI started a round of talks with party lead­ers-an oblig­a­tory stage in the post-elec­tion process and the fifth to take place since De­cem­ber. He meets Ra­joy on Tues­day and will al­most cer­tainly des­ig­nate him as prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date, safe in the knowl­edge that his mi­nor­ity govern­ment will suc­ceed, even if rebel So­cial­ist law­mak­ers threaten to vote no.

Two par­lia­men­tary de­bates and con­fi­dence votes will sub­se­quently be called the final one ex­pected to take place on Satur­day or Sun­day, and Spain due to have a govern­ment by Novem­ber 1. But with just 137 law­mak­ers out of 350, Ra­joy will not have an easy ride, given the huge op­po­si­tion in par­lia­ment. “It’s un­prece­dented in Spain to have a govern­ment with so lit­tle par­lia­men­tary sup­port,” said Fer­nando Valle­spin, pol­i­tics pro­fes­sor at the Au­ton­o­mous University of Madrid. “He will have to ne­go­ti­ate ev­ery sin­gle law.” Still, he may be able to count on a di­vided op­po­si­tion. The So­cial­ists have been ripped apart by in-fight­ing while Pode­mos has also been marked by di­vi­sions-and both strongly dis­trust each other.— AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.