Elections in Spain bring no relief

The parliamentary elections in Spain on Sunday once more failed to produce a clear majority. While the Socialists remain the strongest party, the conservative People's Party and the far-right party Vox both gained ground. The left-wing alliance led by Podemos lost seven seats. Can the stalemate be overcome?

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Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Gambler Sánchez should learn to listen

Pedro Sánchez is the big loser here, Frankfurter Rundschau explains:

“He doesn't want to admit it, but the results of the Spanish parliamentary elections are a disaster for the country and for him personally. Sánchez is a gambler: someone who's not afraid to risk everything on a single throw of the dice. ... That's how he won the leadership of his Socialist Workers' Party a few years ago, even though the party almost split up as a result. That's how he took over the government with a vote of no confidence and won the elections in April. Then, at the very latest, he should have changed his style. ... Apparently he is unable to. He can only do things against all odds. That's not the way to govern a pluralist country. ... These elections should be a wake-up call for him. He should become more open and learn to listen.”

Journal 21 (CH) /

Prime minister must make concessions

Journal 21 doesn't hold out much hope of a grand coalition:

“Because neither the left nor the right can form a government, the only option - from a purely numerical point of view - is a grand coalition between the Socialists and the People's Party (PP). These two blocs have been pitched against each other as 'historical enemies' for decades, taking turns at being in government. It is deemed unlikely that they will succeed in forming a coalition. The only possibility would be for the Socialists to form a minority government that is tolerated by the People's Party. But for that, the Socialists would have to make concessions to the PP in terms of policies. And above all, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez would have to temper his frequently displayed arrogance and be willing to make concessions, too.”

Parapolitika (GR) /

Blockades can't be solved by repeated elections

Sánchez miscalculated with his snap election, Parapoiltika agrees:

“A key truth has once again been confirmed: it's pointless to try to find a numerical solution through elections to a problem that was and is of a different nature. ... Many see a 'grand coalition' between the traditional national parties, the Socialists and the People's Party, which also saw a substantial increase in votes, as the only solution for the country. This is almost taboo for Spain's political system. But it is the only realistic solution, even if it means that Vox becomes the strongest opposition party.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

A lesson for Ciudadanos

Albert Rivera, the leader of the liberal party Ciuadadanos, reacted to the disastrous results of his party, which went from holding 57 seats to just ten, by resigning. The party is paying the price for its shift to the right, La Vanguardia observes:

“Just six months ago Rivera could have negotiated a deal between Ciudadanos and the Socialists that would have produced a majority of 180 seats - 123 for the Socialists and 57 for his party. This could have given the country stability and perhaps positioned Rivera as vice president. Just half a year later Ciudadanos has dropped to sixth place in the Congress. ... A party is, among other things, a group of people who share the same ideology. And ideologies are adaptable, but not as adaptable as Rivera believed.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Left in a shambles

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez miscalculated, Der Standard comments:

“Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has let go of a secure government majority for the sake of the polls' vague promise that he would secure a handful more MPs. Instead of seriously negotiating, the head of the socialist PSOE did everything he could to prevent a coalition with the left-wing alternatives of Unidas Podemos (UP). These, in turn, were not smart enough to seize their chance in July when Sánchez offered them three ministerial posts. They gambled for higher stakes and lost. Now the left has been left in a shambles. A potential alliance between the Socialists and left-wing alternatives lost a good few votes and members of parliament on Sunday.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Centralist hardliners emerge stronger

The strong showing for the two right-wing parties stands to exacerbate the conflict with Catalonia, the Tages-Anzeiger writes:

“With Vox, the election strengthened a group that seeks to abolish the partial autonomy of the regions, ban independence parties in Catalonia, and limit the teaching of regional languages. That does not bode well for the Catalonia conflict, which can't be resolved with a tough stance and inflammatory rhetoric. And this comes at a time when Barcelona is ready to engage in talks. True, part of the young generation has become dangerously radicalised. But politically, the Republican Left outflanked Carles Puigdemont's electoral alliance. So the next days offer an opportunity for dialogue. Unfortunately, a political stalemate and violence on the streets are more likely.”

El Mundo (ES) /

There is only one option

Only a coalition between the Socialists and the conservative People's Party can guarantee a stable government for Spain, writes El Mundo:

“The blockade can only be overcome by an agreement between the parties that are committed to the constitution and reforms as well as the spirit of harmony inherent to our democracy. The general interests of Spain call for a grand coalition between PSOE and the PP. This is an unprecedented configuration in our country, but it is absolutely necessary. ... Failure to form such a coalition will mean prolonging the uncertainty with major repercussions for the defence of the nation as well as for the impetus behind a series of reforms that are vital for winning back Brussels' trust.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

Poliitical landscape being redefined

Parties from other countries should take a close look at the Spanish election results, says Dagens Nyheter:

“The Spanish example shows how the political landscapes of Europe are currently being redefined. New extremist fringes are making it difficult to form majorities within the framework of traditional red and blue blocs. It also underlines what is required to achieve stable and sustainable governments: the building of bridges in the centre. It is likely that a kind of consensus between PSOE and PP will now be needed for Spain to move forward. It is also a clear reminder that liberal parties in the centre may become irrelevant under these new conditions if they are unable to cooperate with both conservative and social democratic parties.”