Spain’s politicians have one week to form a government or risk forcing a second general election
THE prospect of a re-election is looking ever more likely, with time running out to form a government before a January 13 cut-off.
It has been more than two weeks since the public took to the polls and yet a new government still seems a long way off.
A pact between the PSOE, Podemos and Catalan nationalists is now the only option to find a prime minister before that deadline.
If that is not forthcoming then King Felipe will be asked to take centre stage as the broker of a deal to form a government.
Should no government be in place on January 13, then the King will select a candidate to take the prime minister’s seat.
The King’s choice will then be put to the senate and if his chosen man secures the backing of 176 MPs then Spain will have a new government.
If, however, the King’s choice proves unpopular with the senate then the ballot-boxes will be wheeled out once more and the public will be asked to cast its vote for a second time.
However, up until January 13 Pedro Sanchez and his PSOE party hold the key to power in Spain.
With the election producing the first hung parliament since the advent of democracy 40 years ago, incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has found friends hard to come by, as one-by-one each party leader has ruled out pacting with the PP.
And so, the PSOE and Sanchez now face the tough choice of allying with a rival or forcing a new election.
The PSOE leader has already categorically ruled out a political pact with Mariano Rajoy and the PP, following a 45-minute meeting with the acting prime minister.
He also said that a second election in the event of no government being formed would be ‘the last option’.
With business-minded Ciudadanos saying it would abstain in a parliamentary vote, the PSOE have been left with two options: to pact with Podemos or to allow the deadline to pass and risk the possibility of being blamed for a re-election.
It would be fair to say that Sanchez has been shoved between a rock and a hard place, with neither option open to him extremely attractive.
Turning to the left to form a government is a profound political choice, likely to divide party members and determine the PSOE’s fate for many years to come.
Yet, failing to pact at all will lead to accusations of destabilising the country, as the party will no doubt be blamed for forcing new elections through its refusal to ally.
Despite being openly against new elections, Sanchez will be reluctant to jump into office with Pablo Iglesias and his newly-emerged political powerhouse Podemos.
The surprise package of the election, Podemos grabbed 69 seats in their first ever general election, changing the face of Spanish politics in the process.
A large portion of Podemos backers are likely to be former-PSOE voters, who won just 90 seats – their lowest ever total.
Therefore a PSOE-Podemos coalition would likely be popular with the voters.
However, should Sanchez pact, it would not go down so well among his own party members.
First of all, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is insisting on a Catalan independence referendum as a condition for a deal, which would be difficult for the Socialists to agree to given their current stance against an independent Catalunya.
If the PSOE ally with Podemos, they also run the risk of being gobbled up by the fast-growing new party and losing leadership of the left for good.
However, they haven’t got much time to make their minds up, as if they are to pact then Sanchez needs to get his skates on, with January 13 approaching ever-so quickly.
Whatever happens, compromises will have to be made and a large portion of voters (and politicians) are likely to be unhappy with the outcome. For the good of the country, we can only hope the political uncertainty doesn’t drag on too much longer.