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Illa and Sánchez. SUR
A clapped-out government
The Euro Zone opinion

A clapped-out government

One thing you can't fail to notice about Spain's cumbersome four-party coalition is the sheer amount of clapping it does. What's less obvious is why it believes any kind of self-congratulation to be justified

Mark Nayler

Malaga

Friday, 22 March 2024, 16:47

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What Catalan separatists give to Pedro Sánchez's runaway government with one hand, they take away with another. The whole point of the detested amnesty was, of course, to enable the minority, Socialist-led coalition to get things done, lacking as it does enough seats to pass legislation unaided. One could go so far as to say that Sánchez owes it to his country - 70% of which opposes interfering in the judiciary on behalf of secessionists - to justify the price of his return with a spectacular second term, whatever that might look like.

But the PSOE-Sumar partnership, although installed by an arrangement that will inflame the secessionist issue for years to come, has yet to do anything of substance - largely because of Catalan separatists. Or, more specifically, because of the unhealthy, one-sided relationship that binds Sánchez's government to the two tiny parties that control what it does and when it does it.

Sánchez's decision to cancel this year's budget because Catalonia will hold early elections on May 12th is yet another demonstration of the northeast region's tremendous power over the rest of the country. It's sometimes hard to remember that the two main pro-independence Catalan parties, the ERC and JuntsXCat, came fifth and sixth in last July's general election, respectively, and together hold just 14 of parliament's 350 seats. Yet together they have forced an unprecedented interference by the central government in the functioning of the Spanish judiciary solely for their benefit.

I think the PP - that's to say, a strong opposition that scrutinises the government's every move and rigorously holds it to account - still has some seats in congress, but I can't be sure. Perhaps the remnants of this vanquished party now occupy a few fold-out chairs at the back of the room, near the Exit, where they have a good view of the Socialist-Sumar-ERC-Junts coalition grinning, clapping and generally slapping itself heartily on the back.

One thing you can't fail to notice about Spain's cumbersome four-party coalition is the sheer amount of clapping it does. What's less obvious is why it believes any kind of self-congratulation to be justified.

Passing a budget is the most basic test of a government's competency. In fact the Catalan administration's decision to bring forward elections was triggered by its inability to pass the region's latest spending plan. Yet despite being reanimated at the expense of so much public trust, not just among centrist voters but also his own support-base, Sánchez's leftist coalition has failed its first major challenge.

Ah well, no matter: let's roll onto the 2025 budget, which will contain preferential treatment - in the form of more money - for Catalan separatists, just like the last couple have. If and when the PP does wake up, the first thing it needs to do is call a no-confidence vote against the four-party coalition. And stop the clapping.

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