OPINION
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Mariano Rajoy: Keep calm and do nothing

Spain’s acting prime minister is a lesson in the power of inertia

Mariano Rajoy.
Mariano Rajoy.FRANCISCO SECO (AP)

The December 20 elections already seem a distant memory, overshadowed by more than four months of horse trading between the four candidates who still aspire to lead Spain. And now, just like a game of snakes and ladders, the whole process is set to be repeated in June.

Along the way, the candidates have been subjected to pressure from within and without their parties as they sought to reach agreement with their rivals that would allow them to govern.

Should Pablo Iglesias be able to see past his own ego, he might have learned that anybody can throw their hat into the ring; taking on the bull is a different matter

For the Socialist Party’s (PSOE) Pedro Sánchez the last four months have showed that it is impossible for mere mortals to look right and left at the same time. Albert Rivera of the center-right Ciudadanos grouping will have discovered that good intentions are one thing, and politics – which requires the ability to walk a tightrope aided only by statistics – is quite another. And there is the leader of anti-austerity party Pablo Iglesias, who, should he be able to see past his own ego, might finally have learned that anybody can throw their hat into the ring; actually taking on the bull is a different matter. What’s more, political bulls tend to have myriad horns and move very quickly: the torero must do more than strike a pose: showboating is not enough.

And finally, the last man standing: against all prognoses, and at the same time unsurprisingly for him, the only candidate to come out of these months of power struggles unscathed is the Popular Party’s Mariano Rajoy, who, despite winning the most votes last December, initially looked the most vulnerable, given that nobody wanted to talk to him. Hermetic, indifferent to the events around him, the acting prime minister is a fully qualified survivor, a man who has emerged unscathed from countless disputes within the PP, somebody who keeps his head when all around him lose theirs, and who has done what he has always done: nothing. As a result, he remains invulnerable.

As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? True to his style, Rajoy has sat tight, weathered the storm, and arguably has emerged in the strongest position of his three rivals in the run up to the repeat elections.

English version by Nick Lyne

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