Spanish election: what’s the message for Europe?
A stalemate is emerging after the general election in Spain. The conservative Popular Party (PP), now the strongest party in parliament, will need several partners if it wants to form a government, and the same applies for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists. Although a grand coalition seems unlikely, PP leader Feijóo has declared his willingness to engage in dialogue. Commentators examine what the election result means for the rest of Europe.
Stopping the shift to the right
The far right has been punished, La Tribune de Genève is quick to point out:
“In the end Vox scared off part of its own voters. They have now returned to the ranks of the traditional right (the PP). Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s party has become the strongest force and managed to curb the rise of the far right. However, with or without its cumbersome ally it does not have a sufficient majority to form a government. The Spanish are sending a strong signal to the Europeans. ... By giving Pedro Sánchez enough votes to form a government they are giving a reprieve to one of the few left-wing leaders left in Europe. By punishing Vox they are stopping the wave of nationalism and xenophobia that is sweeping across the continent.”
The Objective sees a deadlocked situation:
“The result could not be worse, and has come at an inopportune time economically. The snap election has interrupted Spain’s presidency of the EU Council and has brought neither the longed-for political stability nor an end to ‘bloc politics’. ... In the face of a very likely deadlock and a repeat election, time is running out to implement the reforms promised to the EU Commission. All the more so given that the Stability and Growth Pact is due to come back into force in 2024 and elections to the EU Parliament will take place in less than a year. ... There is no cause for optimism.”
A lesson for centrist parties
Moderates in Europe should take note of the election result in Spain, advises Dorian de Meeûs, editor-in-chief of La Libre Belgique:
“One lesson to be learned from all this is that the traditional right, whether liberal or conservative, has no interest in aligning itself with the far right. It needs to be able to stand by its socio-economic priorities without losing face by flirting with an extremist, populist movement. And this lesson also applies to the other camp. If a left or centre-left party wants to survive, it must not enter the terrain occupied by the extreme or radical left. The virtual disappearance of the French Socialist Party proves this. ”
A political dead end
The political climate in Spain has worsened, Keskisuomalainen laments:
“Spain has a long and dark history of right-wing dictatorships from the last century. And the far right in particular has made today’s politics more confrontational, with programmes that go beyond the traditional right-left divide. The conflict-ridden political climate could intensify the already widespread voter fatigue and disenchantment, especially now that the poor performance of the small parties has returned Spain to the old two-party system. The election result has led Spain to a political dead end.”
Europe really exists today
The shift to the right has failed to materialise, notes Corriere della Sera with delight:
“At least not in Spain. But probably not in Europe either. The populations of the large European countries are not so keen on getting caught in the vice between the sovereignists and this new, conservative and somewhat grim version of the populists. Because their rights and freedoms are dear to them. And because they know, or at least suspect, that sovereigntism means the end of Europe, and that Spain, France and Germany alone don’t count for much on the global stage. Besides, Europe really exists today. The process is irreversible.”