Spain has a government again, but stability is likely to be some time coming

Last Saturday after a ten-month stalemate the conservative Mariano Rajoy was elected again as the new prime minister of the Kingdom of Spain. While – as expected – the leader of the PP failed to obtain the required absolute majority in Thursday’s initial round of voting, in Saturday’s parliamentary vote he only needed a simple majority.

King Felipe VI swore in Rajoy as prime minister today, initially putting an end to the political stalemate in Spain. But it remains to be seen how stable the new minority government, which will have to rely on the support of the Socialists, will prove to be. This shotgun marriage of convenience between the two main arch rivals, the PP and the PSOE, is a novelty in the history of Spanish government. It was mainly out of fear of more new elections in which they would probably have lost even more votes that the Socialists came round to supporting the Conservatives. The two rivals now have to find common ground that allows the government to function. Although the PP is basically likely to tend to continue with its business-friendly and austerity-minded course, it will have to make some concessions to its unloved alliance partner. The PSOE has already said it will put up vehement resistance against the budget plan put forward by the conservative transitional government, which already heralds the first acid test.

In this way the Socialists make it clear that they intend to take up a clear position in order to improve their dented image among voters. It is, therefore, extremely doubtful whether the minority government will be able to survive the complete four-year legislative period. If the Socialists succeed in putting an end to their internal quarrels and regaining approval in the population, the marriage of convenience could break up again.

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