Elections in Spain: are they worthwhile?

Parliamentary elections will take place in Spain on Sunday for the fourth time in four years. The country has been experiencing political instability since the two-party system ended in 2015. This time too, polls are predicting an unclear outcome. Commentors voice resignation, not least because of Monday's televised debate between the leading candidates.

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El HuffPost (ES) /

A crappy future awaits

Art historian Nacho Ruiz is disgusted by the TV debate among the leading candidates. In El Huffington Post he writes:

“Even if they know it, they will never admit that we are facing a crappy future. ... We have failed as a society, but these five guys won't talk about that. The arguments on their little cards focus on short-term, urgent issues because they know that their expiry date is in four years' time. They fight directly over a higher goal: they want to receive a licence from the state, in other words all of us, in the form of a democratic mandate. ... They are not all the same, but one thing they all have in common: they call their companies parties and all Spain is buying their messages. ... Yesterday evening we all lost, like we always lose, and the winners were those who always win.”

eldiario.es (ES) /

And we just have to swallow it

eldiario.es voices despair:

“We used to vote for them every four years, now we vote for them all the time. It seems this is being repeated over and over again to solve their problems, not ours. ... The new elections, the endless election campaign, the debate among the five participants with all its paraphernalia have aggravated the devastating sensation that we are a product rather than co-owners in this community called Spain. ... Holding new elections was a tragic mistake. Because the ones to profit most from them were Pablo Casado [of the conservative People's Party] and, far worse, Santiago Abascal and his party Vox, which uninhibitedly presents itself as far-right. ... We have been forced to swallow a xenophobic, machoist and anti-democratic party as if it were something completely normal.”

Népszava (HU) /

No sign of de-escalation

Népszava is left with the impression that the TV debate portends an escalation of the Catalan crisis:

“Even Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is accused by his opponents of being too lenient with the Catalan separatists, presented a tougher stance this time. ... Experiences to date have clearly shown that [in Catalonia] toughness is met with toughness. ... The huge demonstrations in Barcelona over the past weeks also show that some of the separatists now see secession as the only acceptable option, and are prepared to resort to tough measures to achieve it. That doesn't bode well for Europe's sixth largest economy or for Europe itself, where there is no lack of autonomy and independence movements.”

Kauppalehti (FI) /

If only it weren't for the debt

Spain is not faring all that poorly, but its economic growth is unstable, Kauppalehti comments:

“In comparison with the rest of Europe, Spain's economy has held its own for a long time. Even if growth is slow, it is still around two percent. However, the state continues to get into more and more debt. ... In August its debts totalled around 1.2 trillion euros, or 97.5 percent of its GDP. ... Thanks to the ECB's monetary policy, which leads to negative interest rates, the interest burden for countries that take on new debt actually decreases. But things won't look so rosy when interest rates start to go up again. Last year Spain's interest payments amounted to a good 30 billion euros. With a rise in interest rates of just one percent that figure would soon exceed the 40 billion euro mark.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

It's always all or nothing in Spain

The prevailing understanding of politics is another factor behind the failure of the formation of a government in Spain, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Each of the party leaders is behaving as if he alone had the recipe to guarantee prosperity and stability for society. This is why there has never been a coalition at the national level. Even Sánchez, who seems so progressive and European, stands for this power-conscious type of Spanish politician, driven by the idea that he must first and foremost keep the other parties at bay rather than seeing them as potential partners in solving problems. ... And with [Podemos leader Pablo] Iglesias a dogmatic trait which has lost him a lot of popularity is also increasingly apparent.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

The days of the majority are over

La Vanguardia can only look on aghast:

“Pedro Sánchez announced that the new elections were the result of his opponents' irresponsibility and asked the citizens for a clearer majority so that he doesn't have to depend on them. But we are living in times that run counter to absolute majorities, so in two months' time we could once again be back to square one in this diabolical game. ... PSOE's biggest concern is that voters could stay at home to punish the left for being incapable of putting together a joint programme. ... In the coming days we will witness a battle of narratives in which each party blames the others. This is a good time to start learning yoga.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Constitutional reform to break the impasse

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains its concept for overcoming the political deadlock in Spain:

“The political blockade might not pose a problem for members of parliament, but it does great harm to the country. No new laws have been passed since spring, for example. Investments and reforms have been put off indefinitely. The regional governments are struggling with financial problems. And yet it wouldn't be so difficult to overcome the political paralysis: all it would take is a reform of the Spanish constitution, whose Article 99 foresees excessively long periods for the government-building process. Spain can no longer afford such a luxury.”

eldiario.es (ES) /

As unstable as the lives of the citizens

The political situation in Spain reflects the general state of the country, eldiario.es postulates:

“Do we have the politicians we deserve? Have we citizens done anything to improve the situation, apart from constantly voting and tweeting? ... The political crisis in Spain is not the crisis of this or that party, but goes much deeper, and it can't be solved with new elections and new parties. After an economic and social crisis that brought so much destruction, inequality and insecurity, it's not surprising that this country has become as ungovernable and unstable as the lives of many citizens.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Primitive and unpatriotic times

La Vanguardia is also close to despair:

“According to a recent study 82 percent of Spaniards believe politicians only look out for their own interests and forget those of the citizens. Interestingly, the study also indicated that it is not the democratic institutions that are being called into question, but the political elite. ... We are living in unsophisticated, unpatriotic times - an era of short-sightedness. And now we're heading for new elections. ... What happens if the result of April 28 barely changes, as the polls predict? Then we'll return to a deadlock, to shabby politics, to failure as a country. This is the hour of the irresponsible.”