Patching it up

Spain finally has a "Frankenstein" government - a minority administration led by the Socialists, supported by leftist Unidas Podemos (UP) and reliant on the votes of smaller separatist parties to pass legislation. The country's political deadlock was becoming farcical, so it's laudable that Sánchez and UP leader Pablo Iglesias have brought it to an end.

Yet the resulting setup is not technically a coalition, as has been reported in both Spanish and international media. It is a fragile power-sharing arrangement comprised of two parties that disagree on a lot - one that will find it difficult to get anything done without the support of a hostile congress ("exactly: a coalition," I hear you say).

Top of the priority list for Sánchez and Iglesias is repealing labour market reforms introduced by Conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy in 2012. Under pressure from the EU, Rajoy introduced a raft of austerity measures, including legislation that made it easy and cheap for companies to lay off workers. Anything that combats the perilous instability of Spain's job sector should be welcomed, but the new administration will face formidable challenges in undoing Rajoy's widely hated reforms.

Trying to do so will be an early test for a governing team that sits on just 155 of the 350 seats in congress - 21 short of a majority. Standing in its way are the the Conservative PP (Rajoy's party), right wing newcomer Vox and pro-market groups such as Ciudadanos and the Basque PNV, the latter of which nevertheless voted for Sánchez on Tuesday.

The toxic issue of Catalonia also threatens to create problems in the Frankenstien government. Iglesias has previously said that he is in favour of holding a legal referendum on independence in the north-easterly region, something to which Sánchez is firmly opposed - although he had to agree to open dialogue with the ERC, Republican Left of Catalonia, in order to secure their votes this week. Speaking of which, PP leader Pablo Casado has accused Sánchez of being an "extremist" - a pointlessly inflammatory reference to the deal that the Socialist leader has struck with UP and his reliance on Catalan and Basque separatists.

Such divisive, simplistic rhetoric reminds us why it's taken so long for Spanish politicians to put their differences aside in order to try and govern the country.

Sánchez is far from being an extremist: rather, he's a centrist, pragmatic politician who eventually realised that compromise would be necessary in order to end Spain's political deadlock (let's not forget that last September he dismissed the idea of teaming up with UP as "unfeasible").

If this new patchwork administration is to achieve anything, much more compromise - from Sánchez and Iglesias and all the other main parties - will be necessary. The big, unanswered question now is whether Spain's politicians are ready to put their country's interests before their own.