A radical ‘State overhaul’ involving 150 points for action put forward by centre-right Ciudadanos has finally been agreed upon by the PP – albeit largely to avoid a third election and to ensure it gets back into power.
This means Ciudadanos will be willing to support acting president Mariano Rajoy’s candidature, giving him 170 votes in favour – including the vote from the one MP from the Canarian Coalition – out of the 176 he needs for a majority.
Rajoy will still be governing in a minority, with 137 seats out of the 352, and with very few MPs who share the right-wing PP’s values and policies, but Ciudadanos’ leader Albert Rivera has always insisted that the idea is just to get a government in power which has committed to the terms of change Spain needs, and then the remaining parties can act as a powerful majority opposition to ensure they are complied with and to force through what they consider to be necessary legislation and policies.
Until now, with the PP holding an outright majority, the views of its direct rivals – the left-wing PSOE, or socialists – and other major political outfits such as Ciudadanos and the anti-austerity left, Podemos, have never needed to be taken into account.
New legislation or policy changes, even where none of the other parties agreed, could safely be pushed through just with the votes of the PP.
If Rajoy gets back into power, the PP’s hitherto free rein will be curbed and, as long as most of the other 213 MPs were singing from the same hymn sheet, unwanted policies could be blocked and more popular moves, even if the reigning government disagreed, could still be turned into action.
Ciudadanos and Rajoy now intend to work on the PSOE, whose leader Pedro Sánchez remains adamant that the party will not vote in favour of the PP in the in-house elections, likely to be held on August 31.
Rivera points out that of the 150 new measures, Sánchez has already backed 100 of them in his own manifesto.
Sánchez is between a rock and a hard place, since if he agrees to back the PP, he will not please his voters or those of other left-wing parties who wanted a different government, but if he does not back the PP, he could be forcing Spain into a third, Christmas Day election, which will lose him popularity at the polling stations.
However, since the second general election on June 26, he has not made any attempt to form an alternative government by negotiating with other parties, having closed ranks against Podemos.
And with over €600,000 in public funds having been spent on ‘business travel’, in addition to MPs’ wages, during the nine months Spain has not had a government and no meaningful work having been done for its future, eligible voters are becoming more fed up by the day.
One in four now say they would not bother to vote in a third election as it would generate ‘more of the same’, and criticise all parties for ‘being incapable of forming a team’ – and if, as Rajoy threatens, a third election would be held on Christmas Day, it is likely to be far more than one in four who choose to abstain.