surinenglish

THE EURO ZONE

Happy holidays

Given how quiet everything's gone in Spain over the last week or so, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the country's political deadlock had been broken and a new administration installed. But nothing of the sort has happened. On Monday, acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez travelled to Mallorca for his weekly meeting with King Felipe VI, during which he briefed the monarch on the latest political developments. One imagines that that took all of five minutes, with Sánchez informing the King that there is STILL no new government, more than three months since the last general election. Nor will there be one anytime soon.

In the press conference after his meeting, Sánchez declared his intention to attempt to form a government right up until the third investiture vote, due to be held on September 23rd. "I haven't lost hope, I'm not throwing in the towel," he told the assembled journalists. It was fighting talk, demonstrating that Sánchez is determined to be proactive, even after his defeat in the first two investiture votes. It'd be good to see a little more proactiveness from the leaders of Spain's other political parties, who have apparently given up and headed to the beach for the rest of the summer.

As acting prime minister and leader of the Socialists, the party with the largest share of the public vote in Spain, it's Sánchez's responsibility to try and form the country's next government. But that responsibility also falls to the heads of the other main groups. It is their collective duty to ensure that a worn-out electorate does not have to return to the polls for the fourth time in four years in November, which is what will happen if Sánchez loses the next investiture vote. So far, though, there has only been one real attempt at cross-party negotiation, between the Socialists and Unidas Podemos, and that was dominated by self-interest on both sides. Where is everybody else?

A coalition comprised of the Socialists and centrist Ciudadanos is the only combination that would have a parliamentary majority, which you'd think would be incentive enough to start negotiating. Yet since April 28th the latter party's leader, Albert Rivera, has failed to approach Sánchez, instead sticking to his line that the Socialist leader has been too lenient on Catalan separatists.

The conservative Popular Party has said that it's prepared to abstain on September 23rd, but only if another Socialist candidate is put forward for prime minister, which is not going to happen. Again, self-interest dominates and there's no sense of urgency, no sense that a fourth (and futile) election must be avoided. Nothing will happen for the rest of the month now, as everything - even government - shuts down in Spain during August. Just as well that there's nothing important to sort out.