The People’s Party has won Spain’s repeat election, doing even better than it had in the original vote on 20 December. But the result is similar to December’s: acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lacks sufficient deputies to form government, and the others have little will to negotiate with him. Felipe Gonzalez, the former Spanish prime minister, has said the country now has “an Italian parliament, but without Italians”. Will the Spanish ultimately have to return to the polls a third time?
Spain has not had a coalition government in its recent history. But Rajoy is still well short of the 176 seats required for a parliamentary majority. How will the parties manage to reach any deals regarding government in this highly uncertain political scenario? How will the six-month stalemate finally be broken? Ciudadanos, a new party created to push for reforms from the centre, could support PP… but they said they would not do it with Rajoy as prime minister.
This time, only conservatives can claim to have won. The Brexit shock made many disappointed supporters go to vote again, despite corruption scandals surrounding the party and Rajoy’s lack of charisma, not to mention his strategy of trying to solve problems by just waiting for them to fade.
But the vote count suggests no major changes among voters, and this is good news for the Socialist Party (PSOE). It has managed to hold on to second place despite a profusion of poll results indicating that it would drop to third place behind the new leftist coalition of Unidos Podemos, a Spanish Syriza.
While the general mood suggests that nobody likes Rajoy and the conservatives, the results show that the right still stands together while the left has failed in every way. Despite the unpopular decisions Mariano Rajoy has made as prime minister, Sanchez is still far from claiming the top spot. And support for him, despite his honest efforts to form a government after the fruitless December elections, is actually decreasing. Moreover, Unidos Podemos, which wanted only to exchange places with the socialists and become the ‘big brother’ in the left, has found out that although the people are tired of the old parties, radicals are not needed at the moment. They remain in the third place losing support; meanwhile the idea of a leftist coalition vanishes.
After six months without a government, the “ghost” of the Belgian “vacant seat” (where there had been no government for over a year) looms as a threat for the economy. Rajoy dreams about a ‘big coalition’ like the one led by Angela Merkel – the PP and PSOE, eternal foes, yet working together— but Socialists think this could spoil their “working class” brand forever. Thus, not only do we have an Italian parliament without Italian politicians, we have a German scenario without Germans.