Saturday

27th May 2017

Poll: Third Spanish election won't end limbo

Spain has now spent eight months without a full government, since anti-austerity party Podemos and liberals Ciudadanos ("Citizens") burst into the national parliament, taking a third of seats.

Yet a return to the ballot box would only produce another fragmented parliament, a poll by state-run Centre for Sociological Studies (CIS) showing only Spain's Socialist Party would gain from a third election.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Traditional parties have run Spain since the 1970s, newcomers so far failing to agree on a coalition, even after repeat election on 26 June. (Photo: EUobserver)

Traditional parties that have run Spain since the 1970s and the newcomers have so far failed to agree on a coalition, even after the repeat election on 26 June.

Monday’s poll forecast the conservative People’s Party (PP) would again win the largest share of the vote, slipping to 32.5 from June's 33.0 percent.

The Socialists, the only party to increase their vote, edged up to 23.1 from up from 22.7 percent, retaining second place — ahead of the anti-austerity party, Podemos (“We Can”).

Podemos and Ciudadanos both lost ground; Left-wing coalition Unidos Podemos falling to 19.6 from 21.1 percent percent and Ciudadanos to 12.0 from 13.1 percent.

Growing pressure on Socialists

Carried out between 1 and 11 July , the survey may strengthen the resolve of Socialist Leader Pedro Sanchez, under pressure from rival parties and leading Socialists to facilitate a government led by incumbent prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Rajoy is seen as the best placed to form a government after winning 14 extra seats in June. Yet 137 seats put him a long way from the 176 needed for an absolute majority – even if he can persuade Ciudadanos' 32 members of parliament to support him in a vote of confidence .

The Socialists have so far refused to even contemplate their 85 MPs voting with, or abstaining from, a vote against their historical rivals. If they do, they risk losing Socialists voters to Podemos.

“The CIS [poll] confirms us as the alternative to Rajoy,” the Socialist group tweeted in reaction.

The PP are pressurising Sanchez and Ciudadanos’ leader Albert Rivera to back Rajoy as prime minister, by the end of August, pointing to a need to approve 2017's budget in order to meet a mid-October deadline with the European Commission.

The European Commission said last month (27 July) Spain may not be fined for not taking “effective action" to bring its budget deficit down to 3 percent of GDP. But the EU Council could still impose levies, up to 0.2 percent of each state's GDP.

Third elections looming

“Third elections would turn us into the laughing stock of Europe,” said Rafael Hernando, spokesman for the PP after the CIS poll. “If the political situation and the opinion of the Spaniards would hardly change, Mr Sanchez and also Mr Rivera need to change.”

Some Socialists have suggested they could more easily abstain if the PP can gain votes from smaller parties and a “yes” vote from Ciudadanos to come closer to 176 seats.

Rajoy has accepted King Felipe VI’s mandate to form a government, but suggested he will not present himself for an unwinnable confidence vote in the parliament.

So far, Ciudadanos has promised that to give Spain a government it will abstain in a second investiture vote – where a larger majority of votes in favour are needed. But, it has ruled out a favourable vote or even entering coalition headed with the PP.

Opposition parties have criticised the failure of Rajoy to face an investiture vote, given Spain’s Constitution sets a two-month deadline from the first vote before an election is automatically called. If no vote takes place, the prospect the country’s political blockage could go on indefinitely, one minister suggesting the parliament could be dissolved without such a vote.

Rajoy still the favourite

Most analysts think rival parties will eventually accept a PP government, with Rajoy as its leader. Rajoy's position is shaky, considered by rivals to have done little to investigate allegations of party slush-funds.

“Despite the apparent trench warfare between all the parties, it’s increasingly probable for a precarious legislature to get under way without third elections,” said Pablo Simon, a political science lecturer at the Carlos III University

Regional parties like the Basque National Party, so far, have said they will not support Rajoy – even if they backed his party in the 1990s – as they're unlikely to risk upsetting voters before elections in the Basque region on 25 September.

Beyond an investiture vote, though, the PP will have to strike deals in order to be able to pass reforms. It governed for the last four years with an absolute majority, when it introduced many laws by decree.

Analyst Simon says the PP’s rivals should now take advantage of the fact that MPs will play a role in lawmaking. Though they may not be able to always agree on economic issues, the Socialists, Ciudadanos and Podemos voted together in parliament in 63 percent of the December-June parliament, he says. “This is the first time the opposition can, if it wants, set the pace from the parliament.”

Spain's Rajoy warns of minority rule

Conservative leader and acting PM Mariano Rajoy has not ruled out trying to form a minority government if other parties any him support, amid looming EU budget ultimatums.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

EU wary over Ukraine weapons in South Sudan

Ukraine, which had signed an EU arms embargo on South Sudan, has since sold attack helicopters used by the government forces in Juba against civilians and hospitals.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Cost of Speaking Out: Human Rights Violations Committed in Belarus
  2. ACCABanishing Bias? Audit, Objectivity and the Value of Professional Scepticism
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Oslo Climate Declaration Focuses on Rising Temperatures in the Arctic
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceAbdominal Obesity: A Causal Risk Factor for Cardiometabolic Diseases
  5. EU Green Week 2017Discuss EU Environmental Policies With Industry Experts and Thought Leaders
  6. GEN Summit 2017Join the World's Leading Media Summit for Thought-Provoking Talks and Experiences
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTogether for Human Rights: A Year in Review
  8. Malta EU 2017EU All Set for Free Roaming Starting 15 June
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersRefugee Unemployment Biggest Drain on Public Purse, Says New Nordic Studies
  10. Dialogue Platform17,000 Women, 515 Babies in Turkish Prisons, a Report Reveals
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  12. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey