The Day in Spain #14




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PP and Ciudadanos to negotiate C’s support to Rajoy

Incumbent PM Mariano Rajoy (PP) and Albert Rivera (Ciudadanos) annouced today that they are opening a negotiation towards Rajoy’s re-election. PP‘s leader has also said that he’s now “available” to go to a confidence debate. The date will be announced (probably) later today.

Rajoy said that he hopes to meet PSOE’s Pedro Sánchez, to try and obtain the socialists’ support or abstention.

Rivera said that Rajoy has accepted the six conditions that Ciudadanos‘ said were an innegotiable requisite to open talks.


The negotiation comes after Rajoy has allegedly accepted Ciudadanos‘ six conditions, which were presented by Rivera as a precondition to any talks. Now, Rajoy will have the chance to convince the liberal party’s 32 seats to support his re-election. However, that’s not enough. If Rivera’s party supports Rajoy, the incumbent PM will still need six additional supports or eleven abstentions. Only two parties could realistically supply them: PNV or PSOE’s, but both are firmly decided to vote against Rajoy in a confidence debate (at the moment).

Rajoy was nominated by the King three weeks ago to try and form a government. However, his rejection of scheduling a date for the confidence debate keeps Spain in political limbo, because the confidence debate is the event that triggers the countdown to a third round of election. It’s constitutionally contested whether he can continue to avoid the vote. All parties are urging the Chairwoman of the Parliament, Ana Pastor (PP), to schedule the debate, which she refuses to do.

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).

If Ciudadanos’ 32 seats support Rajoy, he would have 170 ‘Yes’ votes (counting with Coalicion Canaria’s single vote). It’s a close call, but still not enough for the incumbent president.

The date of the confidence debate, as said above, is the trigger to kick off the electoral calendar. The king can only dissolve the parliament two months after the candidate running for prime minister fails in a confidence vote. The elections then take place some 50 days after the parliament has been dissolved.

Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez in talks to form alternative government

Podemos‘ leader, Pablo Iglesias, said that he’s been in touch with PSOE’s‘s Pedro Sánchez, and that they both agree that the country “needs a progressive government“. Iglesias and Sánchez, however, will not formally negotiate until after Rajoy has failed at the confidence debate.


If Mariano Rajoy fails at a confidence debate (which he refuses to attend unless he’s guaranteed to win), there would be a period of two months in which either Rajoy or other candidates would have a chance to obtain the necessary support to be proclaimed PM. The only alternative to Rajoy with any chance to be elected at all is PSOE’s‘s Pedro Sánchez.

That scenario, however, is extremely unlikely, as Sánchez would not only need Podemos‘ support, but also almost all of the nationalist parties’, both Basque and Catalan. While PNV wouldn’t be out of the question, ERC and PDC would only be possible if PSOE’s accepts a binding referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain.

The only other option (bringing in Ciudadanos instead of the nationalists) is impossible due to the mutual ban between Rivera’s and Iglesias’ parties.

It’s important to understand that PSOE’s has a dual nature. While most of its voters in large cities are progressive, its rural base is conservative in many issues, and particularly sensitive to anything related to increased autonomy for Catalonia or ETA inmates. This division can be largely appreciated in the different discourses held by the Socialist PMs in Andalusia (Susana Díaz, conservative) and Valencia (Ximo Puig, progressive).

This is a struggle between centralist and federalist/peripheral Spain, and is at a technical tie. Whatever the result is, PSOE’s will probably be damaged due to its dual nature.


80 years from the murder of Federico García Lorca

One of Spain’s most celebrated poets, Federico García Lorca, was murdered 80 years ago today, on 18 August 1936 (although the murder could have also taken place in the early hours of 19 August). He was shot by Francoist troops, one month after the coup that started, on the road between the villages of Viznar and Alfacar, in the province of Granada.

Argentinian judge María Servini has opened an inquiry, as part of the case of crimes against humanity in Spain she investigates.


The Spanish Civil War has been protrayed as a war between two ideologies, but genocide is a word that is closer to reality. Federico García Lorca was a homosexual, and had been secretary of socialist Fernando de los Ríos. For these two crimes he was executed, without trial. He was later accused by the dictatorship of having been a Russian spy, a conspirer and a free-mason. He was accused by right-wing politician Ramón Ruiz Alonso, who remained alive and well until 1978 when he died in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

After Franco’s coup (on 18 July 1936), the army rebelled in many cities, including Granada, where Lorca lived. Right-wing supporters then brought black lists to the military, detailing any socialist, communist, anarchist, homosexual or any person otherwise sympathetic to the Republic. The genocide against these lasted until well after the war was over in 1939.

Spain has not opened any official investigation into the war, the genocide or the crimes against humanity commited by the Francoist regime between 1936 and 1975. Keep in mind that the governing party (Rajoy’s PP) was founded by some of Franco’s late Ministers, including Manuel Fraga, who held the position of President of Honour of the People’s Party until his death in 2012.

In October 2008, National Audience judge Baltasar Garzón opened an inquiry against the crimes against humanity of Franco’s regime. It’s the only time Spain has officially done such a thing. He was declared incompetent a month after. In May 2009 a group of far-right organisations orchestrated a legal campaign against him, which resulted in the permanent suspension of the judge a year after.

So that’s the reason why Argentinean judges are trying to investigate the case. Crimes against humanity can be tried anywhere in the world, not necessarily in the country where they were commited. Earlier this year, the Spanish government denied extradition of various prominent Francoist leaders, including torturers.

Yes, that’s the way Spain is.


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