Can Spain's new government work?
After two elections and months of deadlock Spain is finally getting a new government. The socialist PSOE party has decided to back a minority government led by Mariano Rajoy and his conservative People's Party - a course they initially rejected after the election in June. Journalists predict that the Socialists will have a hard time supporting the conservatives.
Dialogue between parties remains complicated
Trench warfare will be rife in Prime Minister Rajoy's new minority government, Pùblico fears:
“In a fragmented parliament where the government has no absolute majority it will be vital that the parties cooperate. Everyone will have to make concessions. … But the current political alignment looks unlikely to favour a culture of cooperation: the Socialist party (PSOE) is in an unpredictable phase - and is under intense pressure from Podemos. The latter won't miss an opportunity to exploit all the concessions made by the Socialists for its own ends. … And Rajoy holds a trump card: he can dissolve parliament, which would leave the Socialists with no time to regroup ahead of a new election. … Rajoy will no doubt feel extremely comfortable in his new role as the 'mediating prime minister'.”
PSOE buries hopes for a better world
If the Spanish Socialists give their support to a new conservative government on Saturday they will be turning their backs on the party base's dreams of a better world, warns sociologist Pau Marí-Klose in eldiario.es:
“The decision of its federal committee PSOE has now confirmed definitively that Spain is entering a new political cycle characterised by a rift between the government parties and the parties of popular representation. And PSOE has chosen to side unconditionally with the former, accepting (perhaps blindly) the price it will pay for so doing. Let us accept with them that [as Francisco de Goya put it] 'fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters'. But we should also remember that [fantasy] 'united with reason is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels'.”
PSOE will lose its voters
The Socialists have done themselves irreparable damage by abstaining, Phileleftheros believes.
“The risk for the party is huge. There is bitter infighting within the party and many fear a rift. Everything points to the party base being reluctant to go along with the decision to support a right-leaning government. Many members are unhappy with the situation and plan to voice their opposition in the coming days. The Socialists will pay dearly for the position they are taking. They will have to watch voters turning their backs and heading for other parties on the left or right. Or, as one socialist succinctly put it: We are giving government to Rajoy and opposition to Podemos.”
Old parties saving themselves through coalitions
The new government is just a grand coalition in disguise, columnist Antonio Polito complains in Corriere della Sera:
“The grand coalition is making a comeback. Long derided as a sad tone of grey in the colourful world of politics, or even as a triumph of lame compromises, the alliance between a moderate right and left now seems to be have become one of the few bastions from which the established parties defend themselves against the onslaught of new parties. … Is this return to the coalition a sign of the weakness of today's politicians? Absolutely. It means that the traditional parties are losing their ability to attract votes and feel compelled to join forces in order to survive. … This strategy of self-defence could, however, backfire and play right into the hands of the 'populist' movements they are trying to fend off. The difference between conservatives and progressives may become even more blurred.”
Decision deserves respect
The Socialists have taken a painful and brave decision and deserve credit for it, writes El País:
“Without doubt, the decision to abstain in favour of a Mariano Rajoy who has done nothing to deserve it must be very hard for any Socialist. So those who did so deserve our utmost respect, and any attempt to describe this as giving in to the PP or as a betrayal of PSOE's ideas must be condemned. … It is clear that the tensions and drama of the last few days could have been avoided if the Socialists had taken this decision last December after their crushing electoral results or in June, after another historical defeat. But once again they have proven that they have a greater sense of responsibility towards the state than the PP, despite all the latter's patriotic rhetoric. … Now the Socialists must start thinking about how to shape their opposition policy to the PP so that they can represent an alternative.”
The right move but too late
The decision of the Spanish Socialists isn't good but it's the only sensible option, writes Frankfurter Rundschau:
“The Socialists can't provide an alternative to Rajoy, so it's right for them to let the conservatives govern. The Socialists have done everything wrong and caused much damage to their country. ... Instead of placing conditions on the PP and demanding that Rajoy be replaced by a candidate unsullied by corruption in exchange for its vote abstention, [after the new elections at the end of June] PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez acted as if he could put together a different government. He failed. It was only after a revolt swept Sánchez from office that the PSOE rethought its strategy. The fact that Rajoy and no other PP politician will govern is also the fault of PSOE. Doing the right thing too late is no better than doing the wrong thing from the start.”
Podemos benefits from pact with enemy
If the Socialists now team up with the conservatives the only left-wing alternative for the Spanish will be the Podemos party, Libération comments:
“The positive answer to this unsolvable problem will produce the first alliance between left-wing and conservative formations in a country that is still caught up in the barricade mentality inherited from the Civil War (1936-1939). Most of the 194,000 Socialist militants are firmly opposed to a right that they still associate with the Franco regime. ... PSOE now has a reputation for 'fraternising with the enemy'. ... In any event, this historic turnaround, which has taken place in the context of the complete failure of the party, which obtained its worst results ever in June - just 85 members of parliament - plays right into the hands of the newcomers at Podemos.”