by Rose Maramba


Here’s the latest on the Spanish political scene

Monday the 15th of August  was the feast day of the Virgen de La Paloma (Our Lady of La Paloma), Madrid’s favorite saint. For that reason she’s the unofficial patron saint of the Madrileños. (The official is San Isidro El Labrador.)

That’s on one hand. On the other there’s (still) a fervent desire of the majority of the Spaniards to avoid a new parliamentary election which will be the third in one year and likely to be inconclusive as the first two. To avoid such ignominy, which many think it is, entails meaningful negotiations among several of the political parties who’ve won parliamentary seats, since no single party had bagged absolute majority in the last election (June 2016). Among themselves they could then agree to elect the pesident of Spain’s central government.

Now, given the above, Madrid city councilor Begoña Villacis, who belongs to the center-right Ciudadanos party, has told the media, with the vehemence of religious conviction, that she had asked the Virgen de La Paloma to enlighten the socialists (PSOE) who were, and still are, bent on voting actively against the investiture of the rightist presidential candidate, Mariano Rajoy. PSOE is turning down Rajoy on “ideological and ethical grounds.”

Things must really be bad in a country, whose Constitution prohibits partiality to any religion, when some politicians publicly announce invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mother to break a political deadlock!

Villacis, draped with orange shawl, shown with today's president of the Autonomos Region of Madrids Cfristina Cifuentes during the celebration of the feast of San Isidro

Villacis, draped with orange shawl, shown with today’s president of the Autonomous Region of Madrid Cristina Cifuentes, during the feast of San Isidro

A few days before the feast of La Paloma, Ciudadanos has decided to endorse Rajoy’s candidacy with a positive parliamentary vote, thereby raising the possibility of ending the stalemate. But Ciudadanos has put forth a six-point caveat. To wit: that the Partido Popular (PP), Rajoy’s party, the party that won the largest number of parliamentary seats but is far from having achieved absolute majority, suspend all public officials investigated for corruption; abolish top-ranking officials’ lower-court immunity; that the future government reform the electoral law for a fairer representation in the Parliament; put an end to pardons for those involved in corruption cases; limit the tenure of the Prime Minister to two terms; and create a parliamentary commission to investigate the alleged illegal financing of the Partido Popular and pay-offs to PP officials.

Plaque of the plaza dedicated to the Virgen de La Paloma in Madrid

Plaque of the plaza dedicated to the Virgen de La Paloma in Madrid

If PP agrees, it will be an “anti-corruption pact” between the two parties, says Ciudadanos.

And the Virgin must have listened to Villacis´ prayers. Not because PSOE has finally said it will facilitate Rajoy’s investiture by abstaining from negative vote but because Rajoy himself, being the leader of PP, has just said he’s signing the pact. The signing will greatly help pave the way to the investiture since the two parties sum up a total of 169 votes in a Parliament of 350 deputies, just 7 votes shy of absolute majority. That will help drive away the ugly threat of a third election.

Who knows, after 300 days of interim government, Spain will finally have a president, and therefore a central government, who is duly elected by the parliamentarians. If the PP-Ciudadanos coalition manages to attract 7 more votes from other parties, the negative votes of PSOE’s 85 deputies and the leftist Podemos’ 71 will not be able to stop the investiture.


Featured image: Virgen de La Paloma altarpiece in the La Paloma Church by JL De Diego, PD
Villacis and Cifuentes by  D. Sinova. Source: Cristina cifuentes. CC BY2.0 Generic
Plaze de La Paloma by Pedro Reina, CC BY SA 2.0 Unported