Saturday, October 29, 2016

Update on the Spanish Parliamentary Elections: the Conservatives Form a New Government

           Spain’s center-right acting Prime Minister won a vote of confidence today in the Spanish parliament for his minority coalition government, after King Felipe II gave him the mandate to form a government.  The premier had led a caretaker government for 10 months.

As expected, the opposition center-left Socialists abstained from the vote to allow the formation of the government to avoid a third parliamentary election in a year.   

The ruling conservatives had governed Spain since 2011 and won the parliamentary elections in December, but fell short of a majority.  They still remained short after gaining seats after Spanish voters returned to the polls in June.  A centrist pro-business party then agreed to form a coalition government with conservatives in exchange for reforms.  Without hope of winning a third election, the Socialists ousted their leader who had opposed abstention for the confidence vote.

Since Spain’s return to representative rule in 1975, the constitutional monarchy has never had a coalition government, as the conservatives and Socialists have dominated Spanish politics.  However, a minority government is not unprecedented, as the previous conservative Prime Minister did govern successfully with a minority executive.  

Spanish voters reelected the conservatives, despite the ruling center-right partys austerity policy that was necessitated by Spain’s sovereign debt crisis, which was a significant part of the debt crisis that affected the European Union, which proves that spending cuts, without tax increases, can reduce budget deficits, without unnecessarily harming the economy.  Spain is recovering from a deep recession with nearly 3% gross domestic product growth, but faces the challenge of ongoing efforts by the wealthy region of Catalonia to secede, in addition to another difficult budget.  The new Spanish Government will have to compromise with not only its coalition partners, but with opposition parties.

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