Spain's first coalition government

After months of wrangling the Spanish parliament elected the leader of the Socialists Pedro Sánchez as head of government by a razor-thin majority on Tuesday. He will now govern the country together with the left-wing alliance Unidas Podemos in what looks set to be a minority government. Europe's press discusses whether this means a return to normality or the start of real trouble.

Open/close all quotes
El País (ES) /

A fragile chance of normality

El País hopes that the path is now finally clear for a constructive new beginning:

“Four years of paralysis have taught the country that there is a situation that is even less productive than that with a minority government: a caretaker government. The stubborn refusal of the political groups to fulfil their fundamental duty of forming a government on the basis of elected representatives or forging majorities to approve legislation has led the political system into the dangerous territory of a permanent state of emergency. Budgets were taken over from previous years, the regular term of office of important organs expired and governing by decree became a habit. Sánchez's inauguration provides a fragile opportunity to return to normality.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Daring mission is worth the effort

The fact that the Catalan separatists could bring Sánchez down at any time is also an opportunity, Die Welt comments:

“The separatists are keeping Spain in a permanent state of crisis. Nothing has been able to appease the conflict so far - neither punishment nor sanctions. The new government is committed to dialogue and integration. It wants to defuse the conflict so that the Catalans can find their way back to a coexistence of Spanish regions and cultures. This is the first attempt of this kind. An almost impossible mission, but worth all the effort. And perhaps only to be accomplished by a government as reckless as the one Spain now has.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Conservatives must exercise restraint now

La Vanguardia calls on the right-wing opposition in particular to stop the crude insults and find its way back to appropriate behaviour before the decisive vote:

“There's no sign of the opposition calming down any time soon. But it would be good if it did. Because it cannot afford this progressive brutalisation of parliamentary life, with the excesses of which many voters do not identify. Even the right must realize that this conduct that borders on hooliganism has failed in its objective of preventing the formation of a government. And the citizens will not reward those who continue to misuse the institutions for political quarrels rather than as tools for collective progress and for solving the problems of the general public and each and every Spaniard.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Little hope of détente in Catalonia

The Tages-Anzeiger fears that the Sánchez government won't make much progress on the Catalonia problem:

“A Catalan MP whose brother is in prison said in parliament that she couldn't care less whether Spain is governable. For the right-wing populists and the conservatives even talks with the Catalan camp are tantamount to treason or a coup d'état. In recent days they have called Sánchez a 'fraud', a 'sociopath' and a 'fake president'. The tone of Spanish politics has become increasingly aggressive. The government will have a hard time remaining in power for any length of time. It's unlikely that it will be able to make progress in the Catalonia conflict.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Headed for a dead end

A coalition is a good idea, but not this one, editor-in-chief of Corriere del Ticino Fabio Pontiggia complains:

“After the transition from Franco's dictatorship to democracy a second transition is needed: from the bipartisan democracy of the alternating conservative and socialist governments to a coalition democracy. A first step was taken yesterday in Madrid with the investiture of the social-communist government of Pedro Sánchez. It is totally inadequate, goes in the wrong direction and leads to a dead end. With a weak executive that depends on the good will of the 13 separatist deputies of the 'Esquerra republicana de Catalunya' (ERC) ('I don't give a damn about the governability of Spain', commented member of parliament Montserrat Bassa) and above all on that of the five deputies of the extremist Basque group EH Bildu, whose coordinator is former ETA terrorist Arnaldo Otegi.”