March 2. 2024. 1:45

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Spain’s love-hate circus of failed coalitions and strange alliances


Spain’s political landscape could be material for a circus production ahead of regional elections in May and general elections in December, as left-leaning governing partners PSOE (S&D) and Podemos (The Left) are clinging to a sinking marriage, whereas right-leaning opposition parties PP (EPP) and Vox (ECR) are trying to resist a not-so-secret love-hate relationship.

The twist? Both right-wing PP and left-wing PSOE need their undesired partners if they are to govern Spain.

PSOE and Podemos have untiredly clashed in the past months over the “only yes is yes” law reform, which came about after the law backfired and resulted in over 700 sex offenders having their prison sentences reduced.

The clash culminated on Tuesday in a bizarre parliamentary debate leading to the formal submission of the law reform, which will now be under parliamentary review.

Most paradigmatically, the submission was approved by PSOE with the support of right-wing PP and the abstention of far-right Vox, ignoring their coalition partner’s concerns, Podemos, who voted against it.

In the run-up to the vote, flying daggers between PSOE and Podemos dominated the media landscape, and Tuesday’s debate was no exception.

“We are tired of your sermons, ladies and gentlemen of Podemos,” we have to be “responsible,” slammed PSOE.

“Today’s a sad day,” replied Podemos. “Today, you, ladies and gentlemen of PSOE, have aligned with PP and Vox,” they added.

But this is not the first time the leftist duo throws files at each other’s faces. This debate is one of many instances where the parties clashed, such as the delivery of arms to Ukraine and the pension reform.

This perpetual bickering is wearing off the coalition and its credibility to govern.

The PP did not miss the chance to have their say, either. “We are witnessing an unprecedented event, the first time that a government has rectified itself, a repeal by the government itself of a law that it promoted,” said Cuca Gamarra, PP’s Secretary General.

She then demanded resignations, called out Sanchez for not being present at the debate and accused PSOE of submitting the reform to avoid poll plummeting.

What an evening!

However, the right is not exempt from relationship issues on the other side of the spectrum. According to recent polls, the right-wing PP would need far-right Vox to govern, but the PP was quick to address the wedding rumours.

“Coalitions between PP and Vox can be avoided, and I will certainly try to do so, I will avoid them,” said PP’s President Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

However, the PP reluctantly admits that, if necessary, they would strike a legislative pact with Vox, which would see the far-right party out of the government but with legislative leverage.

Would the PP keep Vox out of government, though? Or is it just a political manoeuvre not to lose moderate voters?

Some signs show that the PP is leaving the door half-open for the future, just in case, as the party confirmed it will abstain in a motion of censure filed by Vox to bring down Sanchez’s government, even though it has qualified it as a “parliamentary show,” and “ nonsense.”

Most importantly, there has already been some heavy flirting at the regional level, with Vox and PP governing in coalition in the region of Castile and Léon.

(Max Griera | EURACTIV.com)