The Day in Spain #7

Politics

Politics

PSOE the only party to benefit from third round of elections (CIS poll)

The first CIS poll including vote intention has been published today. Its findings head all the main Spanish newspapers and online publications.

The most salient fact is that PSOE (social-democrats) claws back 0.4% in vote intention. A small amount, but relevant, as it’s the only major party to gain sympathy among voters. Rajoy’s PP (conservative) would still win an eventual election, with an advantage of almost 10 points over PSOE. Podemos (anti-austerity) and Ciudadanos (liberal) would lose support, showing that the two-party system still has some life left in it.

The poll also reveals that Spanish citizens are worried by the lack of Government. This concern has raised from 4.8 to 6.4 over 10 in just one month. The lack of a stable cabinet is now the third most concerning issue for Spaniards, following unemployment and corruption.

In terms of leader valoration, the heads of the four main parties fail the test. Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos) is still the most valued of the foursome, with a valoration 3.96 over 10. Incumbent PM Mariano Rajoy and anti-austerity leader Pablo Iglesias raise marginally, but remain the two least valued candidates.

Explained:

The first thing to keep in mind with polls (in Spain and elsewhere) is that they are extremely unreliable, as we could see after the 26 June elections or recent votes in the UK. So please take this piece of news with extreme caution. However, note that CIS (Centre for Sociological Research) is a public institution, and its polls are usually large and very comprehensive.

The most important reading, in terms of parties, is to see that PSOE is holding on, and not being perceived as the main culprit for the Spanish deadlock. Its slight popularity raise could also be due to disappointment and fatigue among the voters its left-wing adversaries of Podemos. Please note that the results are presented as percentages, and not absoulte figures, so PSOE could very well be losing voters, just not as fast as the rest.

Also, the Spaniards are running out of patience, and, should third elections come, record levels of abstention could be expected, as I wrote last week for Deutsche Welle.

Where to read, in Spanish, about this:

Basically all main Spanish media have it on today. Check out the follwoing:

Link to the source here.

Rajoy and Rivera to meet on Wednesday

Incumbent PM, Mariano Rajoy, and Albert Rivera, Ciudadanos (liberal, centre-right) leader will meet next Wednesday. The meeting was announced last week, but no exact date had been scheduled until today. The two conservative leaders are expected to negotiate the expense ceiling level and a National Budget law draft.

Explained:

Ciudadanos is, so far, the only major party that has been open to negotiate with Mariano Rajoy towards forming a new government. The party, which has vowed to abstain in Rajoy’s eventual confidence debate, said that they would support Rajoy in “major economic reforms”, including the expense ceiling, deficit goal and National Budget.

The expense ceiling is the first step towards a National Budget law. This key figure establishes what’s the maximum expenditure the government is ready to spend in a year. It’s also important to establish a deficit goal, which is heavily subjected to European Union regulations.

The problem is that it’s unclear whether a temporary government can legally pass these bills. PSOE (social-democrats) claim that it’s possible, while PP (conservative) says it’s not, and that Spain risks a fine from the EU if Brussels doesn’t have confirmed figures by mid-October.

Ciudadanos’ help would, then, only be helpful if the bill reaches the Parliament.

Where to read, in Spanish, about this:

You can find out more about the meeting in any major Spanish outlet:

Political talk of the day: PSOE reinforces ‘No’ vote

There are no big changes about the position of the main political actors in the country. However, the formation of a new government is still one of the main topics in Spain, and will continue to be in the next few weeks.

PSOE (centre-left, social-democratic) has reincforced its decision to oppose Mariano Rajoy’s re-election. Socialist MP Meritxell Batet said that the incumbent PM should resign, but added that it’s not just a question of who’s at the helm of PP, but rather one of “democratic normality.” Batet has said that, even if Ciudadanos (centre-right, liberal) voted in favour of Rajoy in a confidence debate, that wouldn’t change PSOE’s opporition.

About the possibility of negotiating a left-wing government with Podemos’ (left, anti-austerity), Batet said that “it makes no sense to talk about that, because Rajoy is not far from being re-elected.”

PP (right, conservative) has criticised PSOE and Ciudadanos of not taking responsibilities. Conservative Vice-secretary of Studies and Programmes, Andrea Levy, said in an interview that the socialists should show “State responsability” and let the most voted party (hers) form a government. In that sense, PP’s spokesman at the Senate, José Manuel Barreiro, has suggested that the electoral rules should be changed to let the most voted party take the lead.

Ciudadanos’ leader Albert Rivera, who will meet Mariano Rajoy next Wednesday to negotiate key economic measures, said yesterday that his party’s decision to abstain is “final.” Ciudadanos MP Sonia Sierra said that even if the liberal party supported Rajoy, that support alone would not suffice to re-elect the incumbent PM.

Podemos has urged PSOE to move from the “triple no” (‘No’ to Rajoy, ‘No’ to an alternative government with Podemos’ support and ‘No’ to a third round of elections). The anti-austerity group’s Secretary of Political and Social Analysis, Carolina Bescansa, said that those three negatives are not compatible with each other, and that PSOE will have to choose which one to change.

Finally, PNV (right, Basque nationalist) spokesman José Antonio Suso, said that his group will also vote ‘No’ to Rajoy’s re-election, criticising PSOE for suggesting otherwise.

Explained:

The situation of political deadlock can only be broken by PSOE. The socialists’ 85 MPs could unlock Mariano Rajoy’s re-election if they abstain in the incumbent PM’s confidence debate.

The PM is elected by the parliament in a two-round vote. In the first round, the candidate nominated by the King (in this case, Mariano Rajoy), needs an absolute majority of votes (that is, 176 seats). If he fails, a second round takes place 48 hours later, and that time, the candidate only needs a simple majority (more ‘Yes’ than ‘No’ votes).

At the moment, Rajoy has secured 138 ‘Yes’ votes (137 from his own party and one from Coalición Canaria). He has also secured Ciudadanos abstention in the second round, so he would need to make sure that ‘No’ votes don’t amount to more than 137.

Podemos 71 seats, ERC’s 9 (centre-left, Catalan nationalist) and EH Bildu’s 2 (left, Basque nationalist) are guaranteed to vote against Rajoy, so the incumbent PM has a wiggling room of 55 seats. His problem is that PSOE’s 85 seats are positioned against him, so unless Ciudadanos decides to change to a ‘Yes’ vote, Spain will head to a new round of elections.

Where to read, in Spanish, about this:

These are basically all over the place, so I’ve linked some examples in the text above.

Basque elections: Fight over Otegi’s elegibility for Lehendakari’s seat

Covite, an associations of terrorism victims in Spain, has demanded that Arnaldo Otegi, EH Bildu’s (left, Basque nationalist) candidate, be banned for running for Lehendakari (Basque PM). The association said that Otegi is not legally able to run for his past relation with ETA and his penal antecedents.

José Antonio Suso, from EH Bildu’s opponent PNV (right, Basque nationalist), said that Otegi should be allowed to run, and that doing otherwise would heat up the campaign. Other parties have not yet expressed their opinion about the issue.

Explained:

Arnaldo Otegi is a very divisive figure both in the Basque Country and Spain. Hailed by many as the main leaderhead of the Basque pro-independence movement, his past relationship with ETA makes him the target of outright hate from many sectors of society. Otegi has been freed in March 2016, after spending six years in prison for allegedly “glorifying ETA” in a rally in San Sebastian in 2010. His imprisonment is seen by many as politically motivated.

One must understand that ETA terrorism is heavily instrumentalised in the Spanish political sphere, so the ability of Arnaldo Otegi to run for office goes beyond a legal issue. PNV’s reaction is logical, as banning him from running (although probably sound from a legal point of view) would galvanize the Basque nationalist supporters around EH Bildu, who would see him as a martyr.

Where to read, in Spanish, about this:

It’s mentioned in many outlets, but the most comprehensive and detailed summary is in eldiario.es.

 

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