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A responsible political party

In Andalusia, the PSOE must offer alternatives, while keeping its identity as a reliable party

The talks between the left-wing parties in Andalusia — the Socialist Party (PSOE) and United Left (IU) — with a view to forming a regional government, the possible impact of this on Extremadura, and the possibility of a center-left regional government in Asturias, all stand as a conspicuous counterweight to the overwhelming hegemony, unparalleled in recent decades in Spain, of the Popular Party (PP).

The existence of this counterweight is in itself interesting, democracy being a system of balances between majorities and minorities, while it is well known that absolute power encourages the tics of autocracy and corruption. But in our country the system of regional government has generally served as a counterweight, so that no one was totally excluded from the exercise of power: an inclusion that encourages responsibility and discourages extremism.

All this has to be kept even more in mind, in that a solution to the severe economic crisis demands everyone's participation. Meanwhile, this system of balances and potential counterweights resulting from the recent regional elections will only be really positive if certain requisites are complied with on the part of the PSOE as well as others.

Being all too aware of the rap on the knuckles it has received — mitigated only by the insufficient victory, indeed the strategic defeat of the PP — the Andalusian PSOE must now clean up its act and eliminate nepotism, irregularities and corruption. A coalition government or parliamentary voting pact with IU might be useful in this respect. More decisive, as exceeding the strict ambit of Andalusia, is the question of whether the Socialists will maintain their identity as a responsible, government-worthy political party, reliable in the eyes of the Spanish public, and of the EU. A similar question — though less consequential, in this case the presence of a single, balance-tipping lawmaker for the UPyD, a party of the center, but with no experience in government — is being posed in Asturias. Budget consolidation was the objective of the Socialists in the national government, and this it must still be, wherever they have the responsibility of power.

One thing is discrepancy, even dissidence, which may take the form of contrary votes, such as in the distribution of the deficit burden, as happened in the last Fiscal and Financial Policy Council. Another thing would be a settled state of disagreement, which would undermine the handling of the crisis, and Spain's commitments to the EU. This was the PP's policy in opposition, and it was of little use to the general interest.

The Socialists now have a certain margin for seeking alternative kinds of cutbacks, and for designing a different, more balanced policy. To promote strategies of confrontation, based on holding a few regional governments, would be a costly mistake for the nation as a whole. In the foreground stands the PSOE, flanked by two abysses equally fatal to its future: first, tagging along behind the PP and, second, becoming an appendix of United Left.

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