The New Spanish Government Holds Win-Win Cards

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PM Pedro Sánchez will govern backed by a weak minority party. There will be little respite from either those who voted for him or those who voted against him. No one expects he can deliver any substantive policies. Yet, such an isolated and weak position can also be a valuable asset. As he has reached power making no promises, apart from keeping current European commitments and enforcing the budget tabled by the government he toppled, there is little scope for disappointment.

Any modest step he undertakes will receive fulsome praise, while any failure will receive widespread understanding. Should the main Opposition party vote down the budget currently undergoing parliamentary scrutiny, he can resort to targeted proposals on key issues such as pension increases, forcing other parties to cave in or face a harsh backlash in the forthcoming elections.

He has little to fear, as those who supported his bid for premiership will never endorse a right-wing attempt to sack him. He can, and probably will, refrain from providing any concessions to those who rallied behind his bold attempt to seize power, thus refuting the claim he entered secret commitments with pro-independence or far-left parties. He might even benefit from taking a tough position on the Catalonia crisis, making no concession to those openly aiming at severing links with Spain.

Will Spain suffer from having a government with such minimal support? Undoubtedly, the scope for enforcing any strong policy line seems limited. However, unless the current outlook sharply deteriorates, there is no visible need to take action. PM Sánchez can simply wait and see until a favourable moment emerges for calling a snap election. His gamble will provide him a better chance to perform well in the next polls. Securing the pole position may propel him well ahead of his rivals in the forthcoming race. After all, the main benefits of being in office are that it enables those enjoying that status the ability to implement their policies, or serves as a solid ground for claiming to do so in the future.

About the Author

JP Marin Arrese
Juan Pedro Marín Arrese is a Madrid-based economic analyst and observer. He regularly publishes articles in the Spanish leading financial newspaper 'Expansión'.