Will Spain overcome its political paralysis?

The Spanish have had an interim government for nine months now and are due to vote for the third time within a year in December. Also with their unbending stance on Catalonian independence the country's parties have caused this paralysis, commentators criticise.

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La Vanguardia (ES) /

Madrid's goverment depends on Barcelona

The conservatives and the liberal Ciudadanos party strictly oppose the secession of Catalonia. The Socialists want to steer a middle course and give the region more autonomy, while the leftist Podemos has separatists within its own ranks. This makes the Catalonian independence struggle a key issue for all Spain, La Vanguardia explains:

“We would already have a government now if so many bridges hadn't been torn down. Spain wouldn't be in a stalemate situation if Madrid hadn't opted for obstinate silence [vis-à-vis Catalonia]. So [with the Catalonian independence demonstrations] 11 September 2016 marks the beginning of a complicated process that can only lead to success if bridges are rebuilt in all directions. The weariness on all sides is a sign that the strategy of head-on collision has had its day. There is no majority in Catalonia for a unilaterally declared secession - as the vote of 27 September showed. And there is no majority in Spain for a stubborn government.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

No one wants to govern in Madrid

The two major parties PP and PSOE are to blame for the stalemate in Spanish politics, La Vanguardia rails:

“The state of paralysis in which Spain has been living since 20 February 2015 can't be chalked up to just one party. That would be implausible. It's true that [PSOE leader] Pedro Sánchez broke down new bridges yesterday and made things even more difficult - acting on the basis of ideological coherence, as he claimed, or out of resentment against Rajoy, others say. But it is also true that the People's Party has not made enough of an effort to secure more support. … In sum we can conclude that neither the PP nor PSOE consider that which has top priority for most Spaniards to be particularly urgent: namely giving the country a government with the powers necessary to lead the country and to be accountable to parliament.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Spain doing well without a government

Spain is governing itself - and quite effectively, political scientist Nadia Urbinati concludes in La Repubblica:

“A few years ago it was Belgium that got along just fine without a government for one and a half years. A similar situation looks increasingly likely in Spain. Civil society appears to be getting along quite nicely without a government and with the prospect of new elections that - we hope - will release the country from this deadlock. The political discussions about the need for strong governments are running parallel to such rare trends in which the idea of an apparatus based on generalised rules seems to be gaining the upper hand. The latter is able to hold society together with less arbitrary commands than those imposed on us by politicians, whose actions are mainly guided by the desire to win votes and the negotiations among the parties. Naturally the prerequisite for all this is a society that is united and coherent enough.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Strategy of doing nothing won't work

Political renewal, anti-corruption measures, electoral law reforms - these are just some of the conditions the newcomer party Ciudadanos has set in return for supporting Mariano Rajoy's bid to be prime minister. The latter will have to give in, El Periódico de Catalunya believes:

“At his frustrating press conference yesterday Rajoy stuck to the same strategy he has pursued since December 20: wearing down the other parties in order to be re-elected as prime minister with minimal effort - without declaring any serious intentions to introduce the necessary political changes or reform his party, where corruption has reached levels that are intolerable in a democracy. … There seems to be no way out, but a deal is inevitable. Because the alternative, to hold the third elections within the space of a year, would be to step into the abyss.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

A third election is out of the question

The months of government crisis come at an especially difficult time for Spain, writes Upsala Nya Tidning:

“Not only is the economy weakening in leaderless Spain, but Catalonia is also taking new steps towards independence. The majority in the Catalan parliament recently voted for establishing their own constitution in addition to the Spanish one. At the same time they are working on creating their own central bank and other national institutions. This is all to be in place by the spring, and then they want to hold a referendum regardless of what the central government has to say. … Catalonia's Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont had a brief meeting with Mariano Rajoy in April. Since then there has been no further contact. To avoid genuine unrest in Spain - which everyone agrees must be pre-empted at all cost - Rajoy must stop sulking and get to work. A third election is simply not an option for Spain.”

Público (PT) /

Another election would be unbearable

Spain hasn't recovered from the recent political upheaval, journalist Jorge Almeida Fernandes comments in Público:

“Spain has been without a government for seven months now and many are already predicting that this situation will last until November or January, possible dates for a third election. … In Spain the transition from a two-party system to a reality in which four parties suddenly all have a say has failed to produce new rules that could lead to a compromise. On the contrary: we are watching a game of vetoes that is severely hampering the chances of finding a solution. In the last legislative period repeating the election was the only solution. A third election would be politically unbearable - but not inevitable.”

Cinco Días (ES) /

Consensus a question of will

The country is getting along just fine without a government, the business paper Cinco Días comments with surprise, but asks how much longer that can last:

“No less than 2,555 people a day have found a job even though since January the political parties have lacked the consensus necessary to give the country a government, and doubts about whether they have really tried are growing. The Spain of political functions turns its back on the Spain that functions. While official Spain and its politicians haven't done their job because simply voicing words and intentions is not enough, the companies and economic agents have done theirs. … But if the political crisis continues the economic recovery may falter. … No one understands the parties' inability to reach a consensus. Everyone knows that there is no agreement because no one is really trying. Where there is a will, there is a way.”