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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

Addressing the political crisis

Rajoy’s parliamentary appearance calls for clear answers without skirting the problem

A week after his remarks underlining the value of stability, and his own disinclination to enter into "details and controversies," the prime minister has changed his strategy and now considers that the time has come for him to appear voluntarily before Congress. This change of attitude is of some interest, assuming that it is not of a merely tactical nature — that is, if Mariano Rajoy has understood that the crisis of confidence created by the Bárcenas affair is of such dimensions as to be incompatible with his departure on summer vacations as if nothing had happened.

The prime ministerial initiative, if somewhat tardy, must give clear answers to the insistent calls coming from the opposition and from other quarters. Since its victory in 2011, the Popular Party's political capital has been eroded by the scandal of alleged irregular financing, rounded off by the party's flat refusal to have the prime minister appear in Congress to give the explanations that have been demanded there. Rajoy owes parliament a complete elucidation of what is true and false in the suspicions that have been undermining public confidence in his leadership, and he deliver it without beating about the bush, or exercising the subterfuge with which he usually slips out of compromising situations.

For the moment, the initiative seems serious in intent, or certainly sufficiently as to rule out the need for a censure motion. In any case, the possibility of such a vote of no confidence has served as an instrument of pressure on the prime minister. Had the motion actually been brought, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba had nothing to lose since he could not expect it to be carried. In default of such a clear-cut end, he could have created a climate of arraignment against a government that habitually puts off problems and never deals with them head on. Rajoy faced the risk of losing even more credit if he persisted in the contradiction of invoking representative democracy, on the one hand, and ignoring parliament on the other. Normalizing the prime minister's presence in Congress is positive in itself.

But dangers remain, because of the uncertainty surrounding the format and the content of the upcoming parliamentary session. Rajoy has given us to understand his intention of making it a sort of debate on the state of the nation, mentioning his desire to "draw up a balance" of his government's decisions, many of which are "not understood by the public," and of Spain's economic and political situation. If there are any hopeful signs of improvement in the Spanish economy, these are welcome, and of interest to all. But the overriding priority here is that the prime minister concentrate on the particular issue on which explanations have been demanded of him, without further evasive maneuvers.

Another thing we have a right to expect of the debate is that it be free of finger-pointing at the other side — normally based on the argument "Well you are just as bad" — which would once again frustrate the public's desire for honesty. The tentative inter-party consensus on certain issues of state having fallen apart, society at least needs a clear commitment from its leaders to a more transparent manner of conducting politics.

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