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Editorials
These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

Breakdown of confidence

The political system is losing credibility due to a lack of consensus solutions

The profound social malaise bred of the economic crisis is degenerating into a breakdown of confidence in the political system. With the fading of optimism that the government's budget cuts might improve the state of the economy, the idea of intolerable inequity in the distribution of burdens has become a settled assumption. Nine out of 10 people agree that everyone is paying for the crisis, except the bankers and the rich, according to a Metroscopia opinion poll published by EL PAÍS this week.

The fear of impoverishment and the weakness of politics are giving way to grave premonitions: if the situation does not improve, most of those asked consider it likely that we shall see a greater number of mass demonstrations (91 percent), more crime in the streets (84), violent protests (79), looting of shops (64) and boycotting of banks (61). And while most people believe in the law, three out of every 10 people do not see it as a barrier before which you must always stop.

In line with this wave of public opinion, the two major parties on the parliamentary political spectrum are showing signs of severe fatigue. The PP has lost 14.7 points with respect to the 2011 legislative elections and has suffered a sharp drop in voter fidelity. If one year ago, 90 percent of those who had voted PP declared they would do so again, now only 51 percent say they would back the conservatives.

The Socialists, meanwhile, are continuing their downward slide: with 4.5 points less than in the last legislative elections, they would now swallow the worst results in their history; graver still for the opposition, only 41 percent of those who voted for the party say they would be prepared to do so again.

The fact that 77 percent of citizens share the views of those who demonstrated near Congress does not imply a massive desire to protest on the streets; but nor does it imply disapproval of those who do. It is clear that the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, committed yet another error by assuming that the "silent majority" is against the September 25 demonstrators, and that criticism of the government is a minority phenomenon. The government, which spoke of defense of Congress in justification of the police action at the demonstration, itself treats parliament with disdain when it passes laws by decree and uses its clear majority to avoid appearances by the prime minister as well as important debates.

These practices hobble the correct functioning of parliamentary democracy in favor of a presidential style that is yet to produce visible results while attacking a basic principle: the street cannot be a substitute for the institutions.

The Spanish people, who have lost their fear of reforming the Constitution, deplore the fact that the major parties are unwilling to return to the method based on pact and compromise, which prevailed in the period of the transition to democracy after Franco's death. The situation demands a search for consensus solutions; this is the only way that the silent majority can hope to find light at the end of the tunnel, and a more equitable sharing of the burdens of the crisis. And this, precisely, is the method that has not been tried so far.

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