Mark Nayler

Spain’s political deadlock finally ends

After nearly a year of bickering and stalling, Spanish politicians have finally formed their country’s new government. Mariano Rajoy, leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), returns for a second term as prime minister. This time, Rajoy heads up a coalition made up of the PP, centrist newcomer Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’) and the centre-right Canary Islands Coalition. This is good news for Spain and shows that, at last, pragmatism has trumped ideology. It has ensured that a dreaded third election, which had been looming in December, won’t now be needed.

Rajoy’s administration won’t have it easy though. The coalition is deeply unpopular with many Spaniards and will face formidable opposition in congress. What’s more, cross-party tensions – an inevitable part of political pacts of convenience – are also likely to cause trouble. But many will now hope that the country can lurch back into action after ten months of enforced idleness. The cross-party coalition has shown realism and a willingness to compromise – two qualities rarely seen in the last few months of shameful Spanish politics.

Not everyone is thrilled at the outcome of Spain’s political stalemate. The PP’s long-standing rival, the Socialist party (PSOE), is in meltdown after the resignation of its leader Pedro Sanchez a month ago. The party is staying stubborn in its refusal to team up with hard-left newcomer Unidos Podemos (‘United We Can’). While for its part, Unidos Podemos is mercilessly critical of the PSOE for dropping its opposition to Rajoy – the key move which made it possible for the veteran conservative to return to office. It’s no surprise that a hard-left group hungry for power would make such a criticism. Yet it’s also possible to see the Socialists’ decision to step aside in another, more positive way. After all, in paving the way for the formation of a new government, didn’t the party selflessly put the interests of the electorate before its own?

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