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Congreso de los Diputados (Spanish Parliament)/Luis Javier Modino Fernandez-Flickr, CC BY2.0
by Rose Maramba
It looks like Spain will inevitably be going to the polls again before the year is out, after the 20 December 2015 general elections when the two-party system went kaput – permanently , or so it seems.
With 7 million votes, the rightist Popular Party, riddled with corruption scandal that sprouts wherever it had governed with an absolute majority in the past several years, came out the most voted despite all those scandals, the cutbacks on social spending and the unpopular labor reform. The Socialist Party (PSOE) was second, trailed closely by the new radical-left Podemos with a scanty 300,000 vote difference. Ciudadanos, the other emergent party, came fourth.
That election yielded four major parties, thereby ushering in a multiparty system hitherto unknown since democracy was restored in 1978.
Unused to negotiations, all signs in this whole new era point to the probability that there won’t be any coalition government capable of surviving the constant jockeying for power by the political parties with an eye to new elections. In their TV appearances party leaders spout campaign slogans, instead of concrete proposals for a viable coalition government.
Last 22 January, in accordance with constitutional procedures, King Felipe VI asked acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to bid for the presidency of the central government. To the surprise of the entire country, Rajoy refused, saying he didn’t have enough votes in parliament to get elected.
PSOE’s General Secretary Pedro Sanchez is set to form a “government of progress” with Podemos, a coalition that the most influential “barons” of the party aren’t buying. More so because Podemos has made it clear that it won’t stay in the shadows while PSOE runs the show.
Even if Sanchez is able to defy the barons, a resultant PSOE-Podemos coalition will still have all the ingredients of a highly volatile government that can’t possibly last long. But if parliamentary elections were held again, the multiparty system would still be around, and so would political instability.
One other surprise in this post-electoral tableau that’s full of surprises is that, despite all the political uncertainty that’s gripping Spain now, the IMF is still confident that the Spanish economy will grow a robust 3% in 2016. And according to Patricia Botin, president of Banco Santander, Spain’s biggest commercial bank, foreign investors, who are notoriously phobic to political instability, are showing no truly alarming signs of stampeding out of the country.
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