Spanish stalemate!

Fourth election in four years now on the cards
POLITICAL leaders spent two days this week in the company of King Felipe VI, who announced in a statement on Tuesday evening that he would not be proposing a candidate for another investiture vote.
It means that Spain is closer than ever to its fourth general election in as many years, after its political parties failed to reach a governing deal in the wake of the inconclusive 28th April polls.
Despite months of negotiations, no agreement has been reached between the Socialist Party (PSOE), which won most seats at the April vote but fell short of a majority, and its most likely partner, left-wing Unidas Podemos.
Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has also been unable to strike any kind of deal with the other two biggest parties on Spain’s political spectrum, the conservative Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos (Citizens).
Following established procedure, Spain’s King Felipe VI has been meeting with the leaders of parties with a congressional presence, to see whether Sánchez had enough support among the deputies in Congress, Spain’s lower house of parliament, to be voted back into office as Prime Minister.
After the round of meetings concluded, Meritxell Batet, the speaker of Congress, met the King to discuss his conclusions. Following that encounter, the Royal Household released an official statement, saying that the King would not be presenting a candidate.
Felipe VI, the document read, “has concluded that there is no candidate who counts on the necessary support for the Congress of Deputies to lend him its confidence.”
Barring any last-minute surprises, parliament will be dissolved in the coming week, and a repeat general election called for 10th November.
However, one last-ditch attempt is still possible. Formally speaking, no deadline has been passed, so the last moment an investiture vote could take place is by midnight on Monday.
This means the King could still propose a candidate, should Spain’s political parties inform him that someone has the support for an investiture vote.
But they would have to complete the deal this week, between Wednesday and Thursday, to beat the procedural clock.
After meeting with eight party leaders on Monday, the monarch sat down on Tuesday with representatives from the Catalan nationalists of Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), En Comú Podem (the Catalan branch of Podemos), Vox, Podemos, Ciudadanos, the PP and the PSOE.
But the scenario emerging as the day progressed was pessimistic, with most parties telling the King they planned to vote against Sánchez, or abstain at the very least, if he decided to submit to a vote this weekend.
For its part, the PSOE has made clear, repeatedly, that Sánchez would not stand at a fresh investiture vote, should he not have the necessary support to win it.
At around 9pm on Tuesday evening, Sánchez spoke to reporters, saying: “I tried by all means available, but they made it impossible for me,” in reference to the other parties involved in talks.
He added: “I tried to form the government that, in my judgement, Spain needs in the face of the challenges that are ahead of us.
“Spain does not need a government for an investiture, but rather a government for the term. But two conservative political forces, the PP and Ciudadanos, and leftist political force Unidas Podemos, have decided to block the formation of the government Spaniards want.
“They have said on four occasions that Spain wants to take a progressive route and we call on them to do so, even more clearly on 10th November.”
The PP leader, Pablo Casado, said on Tuesday evening after his meeting with the King: “I share with the majority of Spaniards, the sensation of not knowing how we have come to this point.”
He added that his party’s position had been “coherent, responsible and open to dialogue,” claiming: “I had the feeling that we had got to the point Sánchez wanted, since 28th April.”
Sánchez has been refusing reiterated calls by Podemos for a coalition government, in exchange for its support.
The PSOE, which has 123 law-makers in Congress following the 28th April election, is well short of the 175 seats needed to form a government.
But for the last five months, all attempts at majority-building have failed. An earlier attempt by Sánchez, who had been pushing for a single-party executive, submitted his plan to Congress in July but was voted down.
Just hours ahead of his own appointment with King Felipe VI on Tuesday afternoon, Sánchez telephoned the PP, Ciudadanos and Podemos leaders to try to secure an
11th-hour deal, thus avoiding a repeat election.
But Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias, who met with the monarch that morning, was not convinced. “Wanting to be Prime Minister in exchange for nothing? I’m not sure that’s the most reasonable thing,” he said, after his meeting.
And Ciudadanos chief Albert Rivera, who surprised everyone on Monday with an offer to abstain if certain conditions were met, withdrew the offer on Tuesday evening, after describing Sánchez’s response as “a mockery”.
The conditions involve a pledge not to raise income tax, reorganising political alliances in the northern Spanish region of Navarre, and taking a hard line on the Catalan independence crisis.
After meeting King Felipe, Rivera said: “Sánchez wants the other parties to give him our votes, without any conditions in return, which is unheard of.”
Ciudadanos wants a written pledge that the government will not grant pardons to the Catalan secessionist leaders who were tried at the Supreme Court this year, if they should be found guilty in a ruling that’s expected in the coming weeks.
In a letter signed by Sánchez and sent to Ciudadanos on Tuesday morning, the PSOE insisted it was already meeting these conditions.
It also asked Rivera to unblock the situation, honour the will of Spaniards and avoid an unnecessary, repeat election.

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Posted by on Sep 20 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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