Left coalition’s turn in Spain
It has had a lot of trouble, but finally the time has come: Spain has a left-wing coalition government, but eight months of uncertainty preceded it. In April of 2019, the PSOE of Pedro Sánchez won an election victory, but the extreme right-wing Vox also came strong. Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias of the left-wing Podemos could not find each other to form a government together and therefore elections were held again in November 2019. The result was less favorable for the left side but for the Partido Popular(PP) and to be able to counter Vox, they had to rely on each other to form a coalition government. However, that did not go smoothly in a country in which there are not only left-right contradictions, but also very strong centralist and separatist tendencies.
Exciting and emotional
As expected, Sánchez did not get an absolute majority in the first vote in parliament (176 out of 350 seats). Last Saturday he received 166 yes votes against 165 no votes and 18 abstentions. The day after the three kings – perhaps the three wise men from the East brought light – a second round of voting was held on the basis of a simple majority, which was narrowly won by Sanchez with 167 votes in favor, 165 against and 18 abstentions. In addition to the PSOE and Unidas-Podemos , they voted in favor of the small parties Más País-Equo of Íñigo Errejón , Compromís , BNG ( Bloque Nacionalista Galego ) , Nueva Canarias and Teruel Existe.The votes against were from PP, Vox, Ciudadanos , Navarra Suma and Foro Asturias , also from representatives of the CUP and JxCat, the Coalición Canaria and the PRC ( Partido Regionalista de Cantabria ). The very important 18 abstentions came from the left-wing republicans of the ERC and from the left-nationalist EH Bildu . It was very exciting and also very emotional. Especially when Aina Vidal, MP of En Comú Podem who became Unidas Podemosbelongs her vote. Because of a very aggressive cancer, she could not be present at the first round of voting, but she was there at the second: “I am voting with full conviction for a country that is feminist, ecologist and social equality,” she explained. Pablo Iglesias also couldn’t hold back his tears. This is an unparalleled historic moment for Spain. After all, this vote opens the door for the first coalition government after the Franco dictatorship. For the first time since the Second Spanish Republic, ministers will take office on the left of the PSOE. Pablo Iglesias of Unidas-Podemosbecomes vice president in the new government with responsibility for social affairs. Four other ministries – labor, social security and pensions – are said to go to Unidas-Podemos, certainly one to Alberto Garzón, the leader of IU ( Izquierda Unida ) .
Moderate links program
The program, as far as known in the meantime, has a clear left-wing signature. The documents released so far show that more taxes will be levied on incomes that are higher than 130,000 euros per year. According to calculations by El Paísthose measures would only affect one percent of taxable persons and companies. It is also important that the rental prices in certain zones will be capped. An ambitious plan for social housing is also being rolled out. October 31 is a special day dedicated to the victims of franquism. Measures are also envisaged to achieve equality between men and women in all areas. The new government is likely to try to break a social trend by cutting back a number of measures from the previous PP governments under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. .
Of course it will not be an easy walk in the park for the new Sánchez government. Spain remains a country of very great contradictions. The right and the extreme right will certainly be noisy. Sanchez will undoubtedly be a traitor in their eyes who has courted the Catalan and other separatists to get a majority. But also the Catalans and the Basques who have not struck Sánchez, will, more than ever, continue to make their left-nationalist demands. The new government will certainly face hot fires. Due to the strict condemnations of a number of Catalan separatist politicians, the centralist thinking of Spain and its constitution have come into a serious collision with that of other Spain that is pushing for more autonomy. However, the arrival of this government makes it possible to avoid the stalemate that has arisen and to look for a political solution that bears witness to wisdom and statesmanship. Not only the Catalans have high expectations of the new government. Also the so-calledciudades del cambio , the rebellious cities of Barcelona, Cádiz and Valencia that are following a quirky municipalist course, will follow the arrival of the new government that can become a partner government for them with great attention.
What is currently happening in Spain, however, is without doubt an important political step that goes completely against the trend that is currently dominant in (Western) Europe. It is certainly no coincidence that Pedro Sánchez has often referred to Portugal, that smaller neighboring country of Spain, which has been sailing a different course for some time. Since the Social Democrat António Costa is Prime Minister of Portugal, that country has been cautiously releasing itself from neo-liberal dictates by investing more in the public sector.
Together with the Spanish government, which is now in the saddle, Portugal may well create a pink wave on the Iberian Peninsula, which, with its 57 million inhabitants – 47 and 10 million – is not a small player in Europe. With these new political developments, the Western European social democracy that had arrived at a dangerous third path could once again position itself as an important socialist movement in a more radical way. The developments in Spain must be followed carefully, certainly by a left who for too long did not get any further than participating in a board out of concern to ‘prevent the worst’.