Spain: everyone will agree with everyone


Fernando González Urbaneja | The aim of politicians is to achieve power, to whatever degree possible, but power. And the laws of democracy are conditioned by arithmetic, that is, to achieve the sum of votes that will give greater or lesser access to power. These are two principles that we are going to see in action over the coming weeks in the city councils and autonomous governments that are in the process of being replaced. And they will come into play later in the summer once all the votes of July 23 have been counted to make up the Parliament and the Executive.

It is worth recalling at this point that Pedro Sánchez declared before the November 2019 elections that it was not in his plans to govern with Podemos or to make a pact with Bildu. His plans were based on the force of arithmetic and the drive for power. If you have to rectify to get into government, you rectify. The same goes for the PP with respect to Vox; arithmetic forced them to make a pact in Castilla y León, with Abascal’s party entering the regional government. And it was done.

Now, after the May and July elections, statements about impossible alliances have lost audience, although criticism of the adversary for pacts with the extremes continues. The PP criticises Sánchez for acting as Bildu’s partner. And the socialists describe the Popular Party as the Siamese twins of VOX, saying they are all either extreme right or far right. All this comes just as the round of necessary local and regional pacts and the start of the state election campaign has begun.

One should pay little attention to declarations; they are carried away by the wind. What counts is arithmetic—how to add up enough to achieve a greater share of power. Everyone is going to make pacts with everyone, with whomever it is necessary to gain more power or take it away from the adversary.

In the Basque Country, where the pact-making experience is well advanced and practised, the historical alliance of PNV/socialists was well-oiled and is now accentuated by the results of 28 May. Moreover, the PP helps when necessary to keep Bildu’s supporters out of the institutions. Arithmetic rules.

In Navarre the exercise of adding up is somewhat more complex and they will need more time to make the numbers fit together. The same is true in Catalonia, where the composition of the “indepes” is in a process of change, as are the preferences of voters who are deserting adventures in favour of the concrete, the familiar.

Feijóo accredits pragmatism when he transfers to regional and local leaders the responsibility of articulating the pacts that best suit them, those that arithmetic dictates.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.