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This cannot go on

Spain’s politicians run the risk of discrediting the country’s political system

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. EFE

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy failed on Wednesday to do his duty and answer the conditions proposed by Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera if the emerging party is to support the conservative Popular Party (PP) at a potential investiture vote in Congress. He should also have laid out the timetable according to which he plans to present himself before Congress to form a government in an investiture vote, as Rivera had requested.

By making clear that his candidacy in an investiture vote is dependent on main opposition party leader Pedro Sánchez of the Socialists (PSOE) giving assurances that his party will abstain, Rajoy is increasing the possibilities of complete political stalemate. The serious problem that accompanies the ineffectiveness of the country's political leaders is the chance of having to hold a third election in a year, which would cause irreparable damage to the democratic system in Spain.

Having allowed another week to go by without lifting a finger is absurd, and undermines the credibility of the discourse of Rajoy about the urgent need to form a government

The situation would not be so troubling if the ambiguous blank check that has been given by the PP’s executive committee to Rajoy had come immediately after the June elections, or at least the day after Ciudadanos' offer. But having allowed another week to go by without lifting a finger is absurd, and undermines the credibility of Rajoy insistence about the urgent need to form a government. And on that point he is correct: it is unacceptable to continue with an acting government nearly eight months after the electoral adventure began.

At the same time, PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez appears determined to see the PP candidate fail at the investiture. But he is avoiding the question of what exactly would be the alternative to a “no” to Rajoy in Congress, without making clear what he has planned in order to avoid repeating the elections.

One group or another cannot be allowed to lead Spain into a dead-end street. Impeding the normal working of democracy is completely unacceptable, and even more so if those who are doing so have the most responsibility to see that the system works properly – i.e. the political leaders themselves. They have no authority whatsoever to continue with this dangerous game, in which one is simply trying to twist the other’s arm.

Political leaders have no authority to continue with this dangerous game, in which one is simply trying to twist the other’s arm

Rajoy must immediately make a move, and that includes offering Albert Rivera the answer that he is avoiding giving in public. And Sánchez should take more seriously his role as the leader of a party that has a wide range of responsibilities in democracy and should try to find a way out from the complicated situation this country finds itself in.

The long drawn-out deadlines for the calling of new elections, should there be no other alternative, would mean holding the vote at the end of December – again. Indeed, the vote could even fall on  December 25. Political leaders can be sure that this will happen should they elude a shared responsibility, displaying weakness and continuing to hide behind sterile tactics that fail to resolve an ever-more complicated political stalemate.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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