The PSoE led by Sanchez won the Spanish elections on Sunday, and it will be able to form a majority coalition with the support of its natural allies: Unidas Podemos, En Comú, Compromís, the Basque nationalists of the PNV and the indispensable abstention of the Catalan Republicans of the ERC. However, a number of uncertainties emerged on Monday.
Statements by the Socialist minister Carmen Calvo, who is deputy prime minister in the outgoing government, confirmed that the Socialists would prefer to govern alone, without involving Unidas Podemos: “We have more than enough [support] to steer this ship along the course it must follow.” As they celebrated the results on Sunday night, the Socialists pleaded with Sanchez not to make any deals with Albert Rivera, the leader of Ciudadanos, whose 57 deputies would give the PSoE a comfortable majority—an alluring possibility, but one that would once again disappoint those who voted for the PSoE in the belief that they were making a strategic choice. Instead of a “useful” vote, such an alliance would render their vote both useless and harmful.
With these results, the Spanish voters have said loud and clear that they want a government that would act quickly to take Spain out of the condition of social disaster caused by neoliberalism, and continue on the path laid out by the approved budget, which aims at taking a little away from the rich to redistribute to the poor, as agreed with Unidas Podemos. The voters chose a government that would put an end to insecurity and labor exploitation, and thus would repeal the laws that have allowed the spread of insecurity—including those enacted by the Socialists themselves. The vote on Sunday called for a Spain that would transform the impulse to fight climate change into policy, and boost the transformation of the energy model by reducing consumption and fulfilling the needs for energy using renewable sources.
It was a vote for a Spain that would reject turning back the clock to an age of social injustices and the taking away of entitlements—which is what the three right-wing parties, PP, Ciudadanos and the neo-fascist Vox, wanted to implement if they won a majority.
The results were a call for a progressive Spain that would be freer and more able to implement equality, as well as able to rise up to the challenge for which the Spanish feminists—who played an important role in a campaign against voter non-participation—have been advocating: subverting the patriarchal system. Finally, it was a vote calling for a political solution to the regional crises, in Catalonia and not only, with an approach based on dialogue and eschewing the head-on confrontation that inevitably results from separatist unilateralism on one side and the suppression of all regional autonomy with a permanent application of Article 155 of the Constitution on the other side. Sadly, the latter is not only what the right wingers want, but many Socialists as well.
The Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), a pro-independence party, won the election in Catalonia, a first in the history of post-Franco Spain. They have already set out their conditions for supporting Sanchez’s new government: “The question is not what ERC will do with the PSoE, but what the PSoE will do with Catalonia. We will ask for a negotiation that brings together all the forces, that discusses a referendum and laws in order to lift the case against the separatist comrades.”
The negotiations to form the new government will start in earnest over the coming days, but are not expected to issue in firm deals, as the parties will most likely wait for the end of the campaign for the municipal, regional and EU elections on May 26.
Meanwhile, the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, congratulated Sanchez for the PSoE’s clear victory and reiterated the importance of forming a stable, pro-European government, enabling Spain to continue to play an important role in the EU.
At the same time, the Santander group, the Spanish banking and financial services giant, put out a note to its investors saying that a coalition between the PSOE and Ciudadanos “would likely be seen more favorably by the markets, because the [neo]liberal positions of Ciudadanos would be better received than the populism of Unidas Podemos.”
It’s up to Pedro Sanchez now to resist the sirens’ call.