Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Conservatives Win the Spanish Parliamentary Elections

           The ruling center-right party won the Spanish parliamentary elections Sunday, gaining several seats more than it currently has, but, as in December, again not enough for a majority to form a government on its own. 

The conservatives had won the most votes and seats in Parliament six months ago, but fell short of a majority.  No party was able to form a government, which led King Felipe VI to call this election.  The conservatives have continued to hold office as caretakers in the meantime. 

            Unlike other European States, Spain has never had a coalition government, as its politics are usually dominated by the two main conservative and liberal parties, but, as in December, two other parties also won a large enough number of seats to deny either of the two largest a majority, thereby potentially ending Spain’s two-party system.  In addition, smaller regional parties, such as in the Basque Country and Catalonia, hold a significant number of seats, as usual. 

By contrast, coalition governments are common in Europe, especially in some States.  Italy, for example, always has one.  In recent years, even various left-right coalitions have formed governments, such as in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Greece.   

Unless Spain’s conservatives can somehow form such a grand coalition with the second-place liberals, and if no other party can form a government, either a third election would be necessary or Felipe VI could ask the current, caretaker conservative Prime Minister to form a minority government, whom the King would ask first because the premier’s party won the most seats.  No other likely combination of the four parties would ad up to a majority of parliamentary seats to break the deadlock, at least without support from the regional parties.  Even if the conservatives formed a coalition with the fourth-place business-friendly party, such a coalition would still fall a few seats short of a majority and it would be unlikely to gain support from the other parties. 

A minority government would require the confidence of a majority in Parliament and always be subject to being ousted by a loss of Parliament’s confidence.  

Despite Spain’s continued economic difficulties, the win by the conservatives was a reward by Spanish voters for the fiscal and economic progress of the ruling center-right party and demonstrated that there has been sufficient public support for the fiscal austerity that has reduced Spain’s public debt.

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