By failing to assume his political responsibilities, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has subjected the Spanish democratic system to unbearable tensions. The corruption of his Popular Party (PP), proven in the courts, and his lack of personal credibility, questioned in the Gürtel court ruling, should have prompted him to announce his resignation immediately and call early elections.
His refusal to resign has denied him the last opportunity to rescue his political standing with one final courageous decision. As well as damaging democracy, his determination to continue as prime minister is generating dangerous instability in what is a precarious international and national context (consider current events in Italy and their impact on the markets, then add to that the highly delicate crisis in Catalonia).
Rajoy’s refusal to resign has left no other option than to resort to a no-confidence motion. The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), as the main opposition group, has the responsibility to lead this process. Precisely for this reason, they must do so in a way that benefits the general interests. PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez rushed to file the no-confidence motion without consulting his own party or other political parties in order to first reach a consensus, as would have been desirable.
At this point, it is now his duty to bring this process to a democratic end, which cannot be anything other than consulting the people as soon as possible. Given the current parliamentary numbers, where the PSOE only has 85 ensured votes, the party needs the support of left-wing anti-austerity group Unidos Podemos, the Catalan independence parties and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) to reach an absolute majority, meaning that there is no chance it can give the country a stable and consistent government. Sánchez does not have the ability to govern solely with the support of his party, nor can he manage the support of forces that have acted and continue to act against the interests of Spaniards.
It’s worthwhile remembering that if we find ourselves faced with this diabolical dilemma, it is exclusively because Rajoy refused to step down. But no one should fall into this trap and deepen the error by trying to take advantage of his regrettable decision. We are convinced that the party that tries to do this will pay for it gravely at the polls, just as the PP no doubt will.
Political parties have a duty to negotiate a way out of the crisis. They must do so by defining beforehand the principles they want to defend. However, we are seeing a shameful game of concealment at a critical moment for our country. The people need to know what their representatives really want. An election date, confirmed and made public after transparent negotiations, would be the best way to end the uncertainty that has characterized the situation in recent days.
Also, above all, they must clear away the suspicions held by political groups about the hidden agendas that each one may have involving the possibility of using the interim period – which will necessarily open up between the success of the motion and the next elections, and later in the formation of a government – to gain political advantages over their rivals.
The people, who are witnessing a landmark event in the democratic history of this country, have the right to know with complete clarity the aims of the leaders who, speaking in their name, are demanding to remove the trust that was once placed in the current government.
English version by Melissa Kitson.