SPANISH POLITICS

Leftist leader warns Spanish king about wave of protests

Alberto Garzón of the United Left calls Socialist decision to enable a PP government “a betrayal”

King Felipe VI (l) met with IU leader Alberto Garzón on Monday.
King Felipe VI (l) met with IU leader Alberto Garzón on Monday.Chema Moya / EFE

Spain will experience “a cycle of protests” due to the “social discontent” that will result from the next Popular Party (PP) administration, a leftist leader warned King Felipe VI on Monday.

Alberto Garzón, head of the United Left (IU) – a coalition that includes the Spanish Communist Party and green groups – also informed the monarch that IU will actively participate in these protests.

If the political will is there, Spain could have a great future ahead of it

Acting PM Mariano Rajoy

Leftist forces have called for a march against “the illegitimate government” and the “coup d’état” allegedly about to be perpetrated in Spain.

They are referring to the fact that the second most-voted force at the last general election, the Socialist Party (PSOE), has decided to allow acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to form a government after a stalemate that has lasted nearly a year.

By deciding to abstain at an upcoming vote to choose the nation’s new prime minister, the PSOE will let Rajoy’s PP govern from a minority position.

The PP won the most votes at the original election of December 20, then again at the repeat election of June 26. But the conservatives fell short of a congressional majority both times, and failed to secure enough support from other parties to form a government.

For nearly a year the PSOE refused to support Rajoy despite mounting pressure to do so for the sake of the country. Attempts at building an alternative leftist governing coalition failed, due mostly to insurmountable differences between the PSOE and the anti-austerity Podemos.

The agonizing decision has split the Socialists, whose leader Pedro Sánchez resigned in early October over the issue. The new interim leadership wants all 85 Socialist deputies to abstain at the upcoming investiture vote, while some high-ranking officials are suggesting that only 11 should do so – those arithmetically necessary to let Rajoy win the investiture vote.

If the PSOE does not abstain – which is now looking like a very remote possibility indeed – Spain will be pushed into a record third election sometime in December, with polls forecasting low turnout and a new PP victory.

A betrayal

But leftist groups are blaming the Socialist Party for “betraying its own voters.” IU leader Garzón said on Monday that the PP will introduce new social cuts to meet Brussels’ demands, and warned that as a result there will be a radicalization within Spanish society.

In a press conference following his meeting with the king – part of a round of talks that Felipe VI is holding with all political leaders ahead of the investiture vote – the 31-year-old sought to blame the PSOE for these future events, and said that “the citizen Felipe VI was calm in the knowledge that there is going to be an investiture.”

Garzón says the PP will introduce new social cuts to meet Brussels’ demands

Garzón also reiterated that IU will join a protest march against “the illegitimate government by an illegitimate regime,” as the hypothetical PP administration is being described by the march organizer, a group called Coordinadora 25-S.

But other political leaders who met with the king expressed a desire to get a new government up and running after nearly a year of deadlock.

“This will not be a difficult term, but rather one of opportunity,” said Ana María Oramas, the deputy for the Canaries Coalition, alluding to the fact that the minority government will have to seek bill-by-bill support to get legislation passed.

Meanwhile, Rajoy made a statement of his own on Monday to praise the PSOE’s decision to support him, taken on Sunday at a special meeting of the Socialist Federal Committee.

“I have read the [PSOE’s] resolution and there are good things in there that we can discuss in future,” he said. “If the political will is there, Spain could have a great future ahead of it.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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