••• The International Writers Magazine:From our Spanish Correspondent
Back to the Voting Table in Spain
The shortest Parliament in Spain’s history has been dissolved. New General Elections are schedule for the 26th of June. It’s party time all over again.
Other than the tragic situation of the refugees, Europe has enjoyed a relatively quiet month having gone through purgatory with the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels of the previous month. It has given each country within the Union, and in particular the Euro Zone breathing space to concentrate on more mundane and domestic matters. Horror stories came from other parts of the world, especially the earthquakes in Ecuador and the Philippines. Spain managed to keep out of the news and other than football, dropped off the European media altogether. Not at all surprised, as despite a continued merry-go-round with several different party leaders trying to form a government and a few other items of news, nothing major has happened except that we are now back to square one.
Because of the infighting that went on during the electoral process, as well as the shambolic efforts to reach agreement on behalf of all parties to the left of center failed, the major leaders, socialist (PSOE) Sr. Pedro Sanchez, Marxist (Podemos) Sr. Pablo Iglesias and every-which-way (Ciudadanos) Sr. Albert Rivera showed their true colors and what type of political characters Spain could look forwards to should any of them become part of a future Spanish government. In the meantime, the conservative (PP) ‘interim’ president, Sr. Mariano Rajoy just sat on the fence as yet another spectator waiting for the inevitable outcome. So there we have it. Spaniards are preparing themselves for another round of voting that most polls predict will be no different to the December elections of last year.
The effect of this political indecision may have some negative impacts on the country that was somehow coming out of the doldrums of its financial woes. Although life continues as usual and present expenditures according to the national budget agreed last year are unaffected, future investments are on hold. Other important items such as the new labor and education laws could be revoked should a left wing government eventually take over and this would again turn back the clock to the disastrous days of the previous socialist government. Then we have the watchful eye of the international financial institutions that are holding their breath, especially over the mounting deficit news that is filtering back from some of Spain’s autonomous regions, due to the hold up of further reforms to cut back on the same.
But the real change that will eventually take place is that the bipartisan system of government (PP-PSOE) has gone and the country will have to face two possible scenarios. A social-democrat coalition government (PSOE-PP-Ciudadans) never experienced before or a return to a National Front conglomerate no different to the 1930s. Whatever the outcome in June, Spain will never be the same.
There is obviously a great deal of other political changes going on, as reported months ago, in the major town councils and certain important autonomous regions that are now in the hands of the Podemos group. Too early to predict what will occur between a newly election central government and all this lot as the inevitable clash will take place once the dust settles at the end of this year.
I’ll leave it for now as summer is approaching. Travel agents are busy with package tour reservations, low cost airlines are booking away and the traffic cops are preparing for millions of Spaniards hitting the ‘high ground’ towards party time as they forget the politics for a couple of months.
The only other major event that took place is the release from prison of Orlando Ortegi, a Basque politician that was released from jail after serving a sentence of inciting terrorism (ETA). He is the head of the Sortu party that does not condemn the murders of hundreds of terrorist victims and, according to his sentence is personally responsible for many of the atrocities. Although he is barred – for 6 years - from presenting himself as a candidate for the presidency of the Basque autonomous regions he has vowed to go ahead in the forthcoming elections. What is even worse is that the Podemos group have been parading him before the European Commission as a ‘Man of Peace’ much to the chagrin of the rest of the democratic EMPs, not to mention the Spanish Association of Victims of terrorism that are obviously up in arms.
I shall update should any real change take place. Up until then, see you next month.
© James G. Skinner. May 1st 2016.
James Skinner is the author of several novels on Spanish and South American politics
The Galician Parallax by James G Skinner
Published by Troubador
Playing Statues in Spain
Spain is still immersed in its own political mayhem trying to sort out a new government after the debacle of elections in December of last year.