Spain: without a compass

The failure of Pedro Sanchez´s investiture makes us wonder: will there be new pacts or new elections? There is another way out. In June 2018 a censorship motion against Mariano Rajoy ended his mandate and allowed Pedro Sanchez to reach the presidency. In February 2019, Congress refused the budgets presented by La Moncloa and forced an early election. On April 28 the presidential elections took place, in which Sánchez was the most voted and therefore the King Felipe VI commissioned him to form a government.

The first investiture vote, that required an absolute majority, was held on August 23 and the results were 124 in favor, 170 against and 52 abstentions. This outcome led to a second vote on August 25, which required a simple majority and ended with 124 in favor, 155 against and 67 abstentions. Sanchez did not win the trust of the representatives. The King, who had to call for a new round of consultations, announced that he would give the parties more time attempt to reach an agreement before doing so. The deadline is September 23: there will be a new government or new elections will automatically be called for November 10, a possibility with little social support.

The failure of the investiture extends the inaction of the government, deepens the uncertainty and crisis of the ´78 regime and increases the discredit of the political system. How did reach this situation? The PSOE practically set aside the pro independence forces that had allowed it to win the censorship motion and focused on trying to reach to a deal with Unidos Podemos. The negotiation had its comings and goings, with Pablo Iglesias giving in on several issue, but it ended in a fiasco, because they focused on the distribution of competences and positions. The “institutional left” once again proved its inability to unite, while on many occasions it directly or indirectly agrees with the right. If it had been the “Trifascists” who had the possibility of forming a government, they would have even agreed on bonuses.

In the second investiture, Sánchez and Iglesias blamed each other for the failure and, on top of it, the leader of Podemos made a last minute proposal to give up the Ministry of Labour in exchange for “competencies in active job policies “. The political shift of Unidas Podemos has become more evident, as well as the differences with Izquierda Unida, Anticapitalistas and other allies.

None of the parties in Congress “kicked the board” with a position of rupture with the regime or a call for mobilization in favour of a radical solution for the country. It was obvious for the right, but the independent and “progressive” parties also acted as critical advisors to Sánchez, from a position of “responsibility” with the government and ultimately with the monarchy, both defenders of Art. 155.

The “Trio de Colón” voted against the investiture and took the opportunity to disseminate its positions. Pablo Casado (PP) described the government as “a threat to Spain.” Alberto Rivera (Ciudadanos) accused the Sánchez-Iglesias duo of paralyzing Spain for a ministry. The fascist Santiago Abascal (VOX) pointed to Sanchez as a puppet of the independence movement.

ERC and EH-Bildu, changed their vote against to an abstention as a sign in favour of the investiture of Sánchez. Gabriel Rufián (ERC) regretted not reaching an agreement and let Pedro Sánchez know that he preferred to facilitate his investiture this time because his party would have difficulties with an unfavourable sentence for the Catalan political prisoners. The autonomist and dialogist with an oppressive state position of Esquerra was once again expressed, as Rufián admitted: “I received several messages of congratulation from representatives of the PSOE and from other parties opposed to ours.” The PNV abstained, its spokesman Aitor Esteban complained about the lack of dialogue and gave advices so as to redirect the negotiations. JxCat voted against.

After this funeral of an investiture, vice president Carmen Calvo considered the offers to form a coalition government with Unidas Podemos finished, and announced that they would only negotiate their support in Congress on the basis of the convergence of goals: “the Portuguese way.” In addition, she said: “It is time to explore other situations in order to avoid new elections”, “with the PP we can share important parts of state policy”, in a nod to a possible attempt of recomposing the beaten bipartisan coalition.

The PSOE emerged from the ashes in the last elections, but the strong and stable government that the imperialist bloc of the European Union demands remains in the mist. Entrepreneurs fear that a power vacuum might affect their business and the course of the economy, current authorities foresee problems if the sentence of the trial against the Catalan political prisoners and the next Dyad take place without a president in power. Many had their August vacations ruined.

The two failed investitures accentuate the crisis of the ‘78 regime, whose monarchic-parliamentarian apparatus cannot give progressive answers to the social and political needs of the great majority. The crisis is important, but those above have a margin to manoeuvre thanks to two issues: they have the collaboration of the political and union leaders that do not call for mobilizations and the strength of the belief that the only possible action is “choosing the lesser evil”.

The actions of PSOE-Unidas Podemos and the political clout of the Trio of Colon makes us reflect on the cycle of ascent and fall of reformists and its relationship to the rise of the right. Many times, broad sectors of the left decide to change and trust critical, supposedly “leftist”, expressions like Syriza in Greece and the PT in Brazil. When these forces apply austerity plans, fail to fulfil what they promised or produce significant changes, they disappoint the hopes of the people, and what had been support turns into rejection and feeds reactionary sectors. The PSOE´s social-democracy and the centre-left of Unidas Podemos walk that reformist path in which, beyond their differences, they both propose only partial changes that remain within the regime and the system.

For these reasons, we must build something new, an anti-capitalist left alternative, that calls for the mobilization and organization of workers and the people, students, the feminist movement and migrants, that does not give in to the government, the regime and the system. Spain´s problems, both past and present, are deep-rooted. They all come from Francoism. They will not be solved by electing a president within this worn-out regime that we must defeat, instead of patching it up.

There is a different, urgent and necessary, way out: with the great majority taking over the streets in demand of a free and sovereign constituent assembly to democratically debate and decide on their own economic, political and social future. To decide if social needs must be prioritized over the profits of the corporations and banks, self-determination over impositions, freedom from jail of the political prisoners, democracy over authoritarianism, human rights over the restriction of democratic liberties and the lives of the majority over the capitalist profits of a handfull of privileged people. This is part of the strategic path of a government of the working people and a free Federation of Iberian Socialist Republics.

Ruben Tzanoff