By Fernando Heller
(EurActiv) — Faced with the dark prospect of a future landslide victory by the right and the far-right forces, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez made a tactical move: calling snap elections to rebuild the left and avoiding a total collapse, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
In making this move, he has also forced progressive parties, which have been divided in recent months and less mobilised in the polls compared to centre-right Partido Popular (PP/EPP) and the far-right VOX party (ECR), to work against the clock to reach an agreement in ten days and forge a coalition before the elections.
The date chosen is not suitable: the election will be held a few days after Spain takes over the six-month presidency of the EU Council on 1 July: a severe drawback that is likely to hamper Madrid’s everyday work at the EU level.
“Our country is about to take on the significant responsibility of the rotating presidency of the EU Council. All this calls for clarification among Spaniards about the political forces that should lead this phase and the policies to be applied. There is only one infallible method, and that is democracy”, Sánchez said in a press statement on Monday.
Although initially scheduled for December, the socialist prime minister decided to make a risky move and try to avoid a future government of the PP and VOX, which would dismantle all the policies that the progressive coalition between the PSOE and left-wing Unidas Podemos have implemented.
VOX, the Phoenix bird
Last Sunday’s municipal and regional elections were a serious wake-up call for the Socialist Party (PSOE/S&D): the progressive formation has lost eight regional governments to the PP and many city councils.
On the other hand, VOX, currently the third largest political force in Spain, has become instrumental in forming a government with the PP in several Spanish regions, including the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Aragon and Extremadura.
The facts have shown that the PP-VOX alliances that began in Castilla y León were not a rare “experiment” and that, despite the fact that the president of the Partido Popular, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, said some time ago that he preferred to govern alone, facts have turned against him.
The political earthquake that Spain suffered on Sunday can be summed up with a chromatic exercise: the country is almost all blue (the colour of the PP) and there is hardly any red left (the colour of the PSOE) in two regions.
Sánchez knew that if he did not take the initiative and let more time pass, a victory of a right-wing alliance could wipe out all traces of “Sanchismo”, the political legacy of the prime minister and his progressive government.
The PP on the road to ‘Moncloa’
“I call for a clear majority now. We must leave behind five years to forget. We must respond to those who propose a legislature of more of the same at the ballot box. Yesterday, we took the first step, but Sanchismo has not yet been repealed”, Núñez Feijóo said Monday.
But the road to the Palacio de la Moncloa, the seat of the Government, which now seems easier for a PP-VOX alliance, is not without hurdles for them.
The first of these is the decision announced on Monday by the Secretary General of Unidas Podemos and Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, to reach an agreement as soon as possible with her colleague in Unidas Podemos and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, leader of the new left-wing platform Sumar.
The latest polls give Sumar a 10% share of the vote, which could serve to strengthen a weakened Unidas Podemos, which lost 70% of its regional power on Sunday.
Also onboard this new left-wing ship is small progressive forces such as Los Comunes, Compromís, Más Madrid and Izquierda Unida, badly beaten in Sunday’s elections, which will join forces with Sumar to try to stop the right.