Comment | The doomed attempt to assemble a right-wing government in Spain is coming to an end

Alberto Núñez Feijóo, president of the right-wing party PP, was tasked with assembling a government, even though everyone believed he would fail. The Spanish political system is not suited to the era of a fragmented party field.

of Spain on Wednesday, the parliament voted for the chairman of the right-wing party PP Alberto Núñez to Feijó against the Prime Minister’s Office. The result did not surprise anyone.

There was laughter in the hall when Feijóo stated in his closing speech that maybe he would become prime minister after the vote, maybe not.

On Friday, 48 hours after the first vote, Feijóo will once again appear as a potential future prime minister. In Wednesday’s vote, Feijóo would have needed 176 votes, i.e. a simple majority in parliament. On Friday, it would be enough for him that there were more yes votes than no votes.

The second vote will hardly help, because on Wednesday 172 representatives voted for Feijóo, against 178 representatives. No one abstained.

Despite the long rounds of negotiations, the PP chairman’s support has remained unchanged. In practice, Feijóo’s failure was already sealed at the ballot box on Sunday, July 23.

Feijóo declared himself the winner of the election on election night in Madrid. The winner raised his hands in the air, but the celebrations were overshadowed by the facts. Politicians, experts, Spaniards and Feijóo knew: the election result did not enable a right-wing government.

Tuesday and on Wednesday, strange political theater was performed in Spain. There was an official debate about whether there is enough support in the parliament for Feijóo’s government.

Between the lines, the focus was on the future. The real debate is about whether the left-wing party will get the PSOE chairman Pedro Sánchez prime minister for another extended term or will Spain head for new elections.

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In part, the speeches were a continuation of the summer’s election campaigning: an endless confrontation between the threat of the extreme right and the threat of independence movements.

PP chairman Alberto Núñez Feijóo gathered applause from the parliament with his speech, but could not get the majority to support his prime ministership.

Representative of the Basque nationalist party EH Bildu Mertxe Aizpurua accused Feijóo on Wednesday of wasting two months of Parliament’s precious time sticking to the prime ministerial game while citizens waited for decisions that would improve their quality of life.

Feijóo acknowledged, stating that EH Bildu’s speeches have no value for him if they do not present an apology to the victims of Basque terrorism.

Aizpuruan there is some truth in the words. Many Spaniards were tired of the political confrontation even before the elections, and hoped that the politicians would focus on the issues visible in everyday life, such as employment and inflation.

But Feijóo, who purposefully marched towards the failed prime ministerial vote, is by no means solely responsible for the situation.

There are many to blame. Besides Feijó, at least Pedro Sánchez, the king Felipe VI and the entire political system of Spain, according to the legality of which the aforementioned have operated.

Everything worked as long as the PP and the left-wing party PSOE gathered together at least 80 percent, sometimes more than 90 percent of the votes. But in the 2015 general elections, the hegemony of the big two was shattered. Since then, forming a government has often seemed impossible, always difficult.

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When King Felipe VI appointed Feijóo to form the government in August, he knew that he would not succeed in his task. However, the king appealed to tradition. In Spain, it was customary to appoint the chairman of the party with the most votes as the first convener of the government.

Feijoo almost achieved his dream. He increased his party’s support by ten seats. The election victory was clear. PP got 137 seats, followed by PSOE 121 seats.

On Wednesday, in addition to members of his own party, 33 candidates from the ultra-conservative Vox and one candidate from both the Canarian coalition, a nationalist center party operating in the Canary Islands, and the conservative People’s Union of Navarre, operating in northern Spain, voted for Feijóo.

The king first gave the responsibility of forming the government to PP chairman Alberto Núñez Feijóo (left). PSOE chairman Pedro Sánchez (right) will most likely try his luck next.

A total of 172 votes fell just four votes short of a simple majority, which would have required 176 votes. Feijóo therefore did better in the first vote than Sánchez in early 2020, when the prime ministerial candidate collected only 166 yes votes.

But Feijóo’s problem is the lack of room to move. In his speeches, the chairman of the PP tried to emphasize his own principledness and the fact that he has not given in to the nationalists’ demands.

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In practice, Feijóo has not even had the chance to get the nationalist parties of Catalonia and the Basque Country behind him. The reason is Vox. As long as Feijóo cooperates with the far-right Vox, the nationalists will not seriously consider a right-wing government.

Therefore, the support of Feijóo’s government has remained unmoved week after week.

If As predicted, Feijóo also fails in Friday’s vote, opening up another seat for Sánchez. The new government must get enough support behind it within two months.

If this does not happen, the king will call new elections, which would be held in early 2024.

Until now, Sánchez has been creative in Spain’s fragmented political arenas better than anyone else. In the summer of 2018, he became prime minister after winning a vote of no confidence against a right-wing minority government embroiled in corruption charges Mariano Rajoy. At the time, Sánchez’s party had two lost parliamentary elections.

In 2019, assembling the government was so difficult that two parliamentary elections were held. After a long stalemate, Sánchez was elected prime minister, leading a historic coalition government.

Right now, too, Sánchez’s strategy seems to have succeeded, although for Spain it has meant prolonging the uncertainty. By bringing forward the parliamentary elections planned for late autumn, Sánchez managed to prevent Feijóo’s ascension to the position of prime minister, which was considered almost certain.

It remains to be seen what kind of concessions the leftist leader is ready to make with the nationalists.

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