Pedro Sánchez's future as prime minister hinges on his ability to make two crucial deals before November 27th, one with Basque and Catalan separatists and another with potential left-wing allies. It emerged this week that the latter deal, much the easier of the two, has been struck, and that the Socialists are officially teaming up with Sumar, a constellation of small leftist groups led by acting labour minister Yolanda Díaz.
Unfortunately for a country weary of repeat elections, the new partnership - unveiled at Madrid's Reina Sofía museum on Tuesday - counts for nothing unless Sánchez can secure pivotal investiture votes from the Catalans and Basques. Yet there was no update on how those negotiations are progressing at Tuesday's show, during which Sánchez and Díaz did a tremendous amount of clapping and smiling, along with an audience that must have been responding to a well-hidden autocue.
If the PSOE-Sumar partnership came to power, it would raise the minimum wage, decrease working hours while keeping salaries the same and regulate companies' dismissal practices. The leftist Dream Team - which incorporates Podemos, the coalition partner with which the Socialists have already had several severe disagreements - also proposes to regulate tourism rentals so locals don't get priced out of housing markets, decrease hospital waiting lists and reduce youth unemployment.
But surely, you may be thinking, one of the journalists invited to the Reina Sofía asked how this new governing arrangement is ever going to become reality, given the impossible demands being made of Sánchez by Catalan secessionists? Normally, at least one of them would have done, of course, but on this occasion no questions were allowed. The Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain and the Madrid Press Association have strongly condemned this aspect of Tuesday's event, saying in a joint statement that "journalists are not mere extras for the staging of agreements [or] presentations".
At the Sumar-PSOE matinee skit this week, though, that's precisely the function that the press served. Bothersome questions - about whether Sánchez is going to grant the Catalans amnesties and/or give them a legalised independence referendum in exchange for their investiture votes, for example - would only have disrupted the obligatory smiling and clapping. But the carefully choreographed spectacle didn't fool everyone: one incredulous viewer commented beneath the YouTube video of Tuesday's performance, "Do you think you're kidding us? That we're stupid? That we swallow anything? I'm going to another country".
PP leader Alberto Feijóo referred to the new leftist pact as "wet paper". Wet as in limp. One could also construe 'wet' in this context as a synonym for 'cowardly', given that none of the difficult questions raised by the PSOE-Sumar show were permitted to be asked by professionals whose job it is to ask questions.