European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker does not seem worried about political instability in Spain, but says that he is closely following the situation both there and in the northeastern region of Catalonia, which is likely to hold a repeat election in early March because of political gridlock.
In a conversation with journalists in Amsterdam, Juncker did say that he wants to see a government in Spain that is “as stable as possible.”
Juncker said “it still remains to be seen” whether the leftist coalition that is ruling Portugal could be considered an example of a stable government
Asked what that means to him, the EC chief replied that “Spanish politicians have to decide that, not me. But normally it’s easy to know.”
Juncker, of Luxembourg’s Christian Social People’s Party – which is affiliated with the European People’s Party – said that “it still remains to be seen” whether the leftist coalition of Socialists and Communists that is ruling Portugal could be considered an example of a stable government.
On Thursday, Spain’s Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez traveled to Lisbon to meet the Portuguese prime minister and get advice on how to form a similar leftist coalition back home. Spanish politics have been stuck in a rut since December 20, when the incumbent Popular Party (PP) won the election but failed to gain enough seats for a clear majority.
The Socialists, who came in second, may be mulling an alliance with anti-austerity party Podemos and other leftist forces to form a government of their own, but internal division is hindering such a pact. At the same time, so far the Socialists will not hear of a grand coalition with the PP and Ciudadanos, another emerging party that came in fourth at the polls.
Aware that Spain could be facing fresh elections if no deal is reached, Brussels has said repeatedly in recent days that it hopes to see “a stable government” in Spain soon.
However, Juncker on Thursday underscored that he has not talked with acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy since the election, nor is he planning to in the coming days.
“I don’t want to give the impression that we want to interfere in the Spanish political debate,” he said.
English version by Susana Urra.