The Spanish puzzle

After the last elections, the country finds itself in a predicament it’s never had to face in recent times. A ‘new politics’ headed towards pluralism, unthinkable for the generation born under Francoism.

Quiet mayhem has descended over Spain in the last few weeks. In truth, it has not been that quiet. The political picture that has emerged from the 20 December elections portrays the country as fragmented, confused and ungovernable. “We’re becoming Italy without Italians”, a phrase that has been coined to death of late, which we owe to former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez. He made the quip even before the polling booths had opened, and his reference was clear: faced by the impossibility of guaranteeing solid majorities, the Madrid Parliament will produce unstable governments and frail coalitions, and this without the consummate art of compromise (or allianceshifting) typical of the Italian politician, who is often prepared to deny his or her principles in order to instate a short-lived government.

In some ways, González’s prophecy has come true. The latest elections produced a plethora of political formations with different leanings and ideologies, and no clear winner. The People’s and the Socialist parties, which have dominated the political scene for 40 years, are now minorities. The People’s Party, or Partido Popular (PP), headed by the outgoing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy obtained the most seats with 123, but it was not enough to govern. It lost more than three million votes. 

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