POLITICS

Spanish Congress moves to take “contemptuous” government to court

Two-thirds of the chamber vote in favor and accuse acting executive of disrespecting democracy

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, smiling despite the congressional vote on Wednesday.
Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, smiling despite the congressional vote on Wednesday.ULY MARTIN (EL PAÍS)

Spanish Congress on Wednesday approved an initiative that is unprecedented in the country’s democratic history.

Two-thirds of the lower house – representing all groups except the Popular Party (PP) – voted to take the caretaker government before the Constitutional Court for its refusal to submit to congressional oversight.

All political groups save for the PP accused the government of showing “contempt” for Congress and disrespecting democracy.

Despite the political stalemate, most Spaniards are happy to have ended the two-party system

Two ministers have already failed to appear before house committees to explain their recent actions, claiming they don’t have to.

The acting government of the PP holds that it is under no obligation to answer to the parliament that emerged from the inconclusive election of December 20, in which no one party secured enough seats for an overall majority.

Since then, parties have been scrambling to reach governing deals with one another, but efforts have so far been fruitless. And the law stipulates that if no government is formed by May 2, parliament will be dissolved and new elections called.

Although it is unclear whether there will be enough time for the court to even consider the case before this date, the move symbolizes the standoff between the Spanish executive and the legislature, where the PP holds 123 seats, well short of the 176 required for an overall majority.

Representatives from the Socialist Party and the emerging groups Podemos and Ciudadanos are scheduled to meet on Thursday to discuss the possibility of an alternative alliance.

A recent survey shows that despite the political stalemate, most Spaniards are happy to have ended the two-party system under which the PP and the Socialists simply took turns in power for the last 40 years. A new election would yield a similarly fragmented scenario, polls suggest.

English version by Susana Urra.

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