End of the line

I find the image strangely powerful: Mariano Rajoy, holed up in a restaurant, drowning his sorrows in a bottle of whisky while his world crumbles around him. That unhappy extended lunch last week, typical of a gambler who has lost his largest bet, was a prelude to the epilogue he included in his speech on Tuesday: “I think the time has come to call it a day.” You have to admit there's a certain Galician elegance in his farewell, even though he's going out the back door, defeated by an improvised vote of no confidence and by the corruption of a party - his own - that will take years to lick the wounds of its not-so-isolated cases, if they ever heal. Pedro Sánchez has become prime minister almost unexpectedly, after the PSOE registered its motion without hope or conviction, like someone who goes out for a quick beer and ends up having the stroke of luck of a lifetime. The socialist leader is a reminder that obstinacy will end up being a more productive quality than talent. Rajoy has also left us with an obvious but valuable lesson: refusing to budge is a strategy that won't work forever.

Now come the new ministers and promises, and while some call for the 100 days' grace before judging the new government, others refuse to give them even 100 seconds. And above all we'll see, like an old magic trick with the seams showing, the changing sides of political demands. We'll probably hear the PP calling for improvements to the railway services on the Costa del Sol, a reduction in IVA on golf as a tourism sector, the extension of the Concepción reservoir in Marbella or the permanent use of the airport's second runway: everything they failed to do in seven years in power. On the other side, the PSOE faces its own mountain of proposals from the opposition, accumulating since 2011, with the risk that in the future these demands will all pile up ready to smother the government in a landslide.

Above this background music of commitments and demands, adaptable to whoever happens to be in government and opposition, we can hear the deafening voices of the apocalypse theorists who say that Spain has broken, that we're all going under, just because their sides have been ousted from power, or have never had it. They forget, in their mixture of irresponsibility and nostalgia, that this is democracy.