Spain fi­nally ends long po­lit­i­cal cri­sis

The Myanmar Times - - World -

SPAIN fi­nally turned the page on a 10-month po­lit­i­cal cri­sis as law­mak­ers voted the con­ser­va­tives back into power de­spite bit­ter di­vi­sions.

Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy won a par­lia­men­tary con­fi­dence vote, pledg­ing to plough on with his eco­nomic poli­cies, de­spite the op­po­si­tion blam­ing aus­ter­ity in his first term for deep­en­ing in­equal­i­ties.

Mr Ra­joy, 61, only won the vote thanks to the ab­sten­tion of most law­mak­ers from the So­cial­ist party, which opted to let their arch-ri­val gov­ern rather than go to third elec­tions in poll-weary Spain.

One hun­dred and seventy law­mak­ers voted for Mr Ra­joy, with 111 against and 68 So­cial­ists ab­stain­ing.

The So­cial­ists’ de­ci­sion to ab­stain drew sting­ing crit­i­cism from its ri­vals in­clud­ing far-left Pode­mos, and di­vided the party so se­ri­ously that So­cial­ist chief Pe­dro Sanchez was ousted ear­lier this month.

Hours be­fore the vote, Mr Sanchez him­self gave a tear­ful state­ment to the me­dia, an­nounc­ing he was quit­ting as a law­maker so he would not have to ab­stain and al­low Mr Ra­joy to gov­ern.

Near par­lia­ment, sev­eral thou­sand pro­test­ers took to the streets amid a heavy po­lice pres­ence, un­happy about cor­rup­tion and sweep­ing spend­ing cuts dur­ing Mr Ra­joy’s first term, shout­ing “They don’t rep­re­sent us”.

Party lead­ers strongly criticised Mr Ra­joy and one an­other, just as they have done for the past 10 months as the coun­try went through two in­con­clu­sive elec­tions.

This un­sta­ble pe­riod saw Spain go from ju­bi­la­tion – after polls last De­cem­ber ended the two-party hold on power as mil­lions voted for two up­start par­ties – to dis­il­lu­sion­ment fol­low­ing polls in June that re­turned in­con­clu­sive re­sults once again.

Mr Ra­joy’s Pop­u­lar Party (PP) won both elec­tions but without enough par­lia­men­tary seats to gov­ern alone. As no po­lit­i­cal group­ing was able to agree on a vi­able coali­tion, Spain looked set for more elec­tions.

That changed when the So­cial­ists opted to ab­stain in October 29’s con­fi­dence vote after weeks of in-fight­ing that saw Mr Sanchez ousted.

Un­like when he came to power in 2011 with an ab­so­lute ma­jor­ity, Mr Ra­joy’s party will only have 137 out of 350 seats in par­lia­ment and will face huge op­po­si­tion, forc­ing him to ne­go­ti­ate ev­ery bill.

Among Mr Ra­joy’s pri­or­i­ties will be the 2017 bud­get, which may need at least 5 bil­lion eu­ros (US$5.5 bil­lion) in spend­ing cuts to re­duce the deficit in the face of EU pres­sure.

But fur­ther cuts are likely to face stiff op­po­si­tion both in par­lia­ment and on the street.

He will also face rising separatist sen­ti­ment in the north­east­ern Cat­alo­nia re­gion. –

Photo: AFP

Spain’s in­terim Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy (cen­tre) speaks with jour­nal­ists after be­ing re-elected dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary in­vesti­ture vote at the Span­ish Congress (Las Cortes) in Madrid on October 29.

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