The former head of Catalonia’s regional government and two of his aides went on trial Monday in Barcelona for ignoring a Constitutional ban and going ahead with a vote on the region’s independence from Spain. The five-day trial is likely to inflame longstanding tensions between the central government and the supporters of separatism in the wealthy northeastern region of 7.5 million people. Artur Mas, who stepped down as president of the regional government last year, faces a 10-year ban from holding public office for disobedience and wrongdoing.
Articles about voting issues in the Kingdom of Spain.
Spain: Political Impasse Ends as Socialist Party Clears Way for Rajoy’s Re-election | Wall Street Journal
Mariano Rajoy, a prominent target of the antiestablishment fervor rising across Europe, was assured of re-election as prime minister when his Socialist rivals conceded defeat Sunday, ending Spain’s 10-month leadership impasse. Socialist leaders, in a reversal, instructed their party’s lawmakers to abstain when Parliament considers his candidacy next weekend, depriving other opposition parties of the votes needed to keep blocking the conservative incumbent. The Socialists, distant runners-up to Mr. Rajoy in two elections of deadlocked parliaments since December, said they feared a deeper loss if a third election was required. The Socialist leadership committee took Sunday’s decision by a vote of 139 to 96. Mr. Rajoy oversaw Spain’s recovery from its worst postwar recession but met a populist backlash over austerity policies and corruption scandals. The impasse has kept the 61-year-old leader suspended between victory and defeat, his powers reduced to those of a caretaker. On Sunday, he emerged as a consummate survivor, demonstrating the uneven impact of the Continent’s insurgent protest parties.
Modern Europe’s longest violent conflict still weighs on the former guerrilla who five years ago helped bring it to a quiet end. Arnaldo Otegi, then in prison, was credited with persuading his comrades in the Basque separatist group ETA to declare a permanent cease-fire after 52 years of fighting the Spanish state. Released this year, Mr. Otegi hit the campaign trail and is leading ETA’s political wing in the Basque Country regional election Sunday. His path is familiar. In other Western countries emerging from civil conflict, insurgent leaders have put away their bullets to compete for ballots. Their passage is a measure of how well those societies heal.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may have a chance to end Spain’s nine-month political impasse and avoid an unprecedented third election after regional ballots in the north of the country next week clarify the state of play. Since Rajoy lost a second confidence vote on Sept. 2, Spanish politicians have been back in campaign mode, fighting their own corners ahead of ballots in the Basque region and Galicia on Sunday. Once those votes are counted, they might be ready to cut a deal. The Basque Nationalist Party is likely to be in the hot seat. They have five lawmakers in the national legislature and are on track to win the most votes in their regional ballot but polls suggest they may need help from Rajoy’s People’s Party to govern. That would open up the possibility of deal to help keep Rajoy in power in exchange for support in the Basque assembly. The Basques could, in theory, take Rajoy to exactly half the votes in the 350-seat legislature, leaving him just one abstention short of victory.
Spain: With little hope of actually electing a government, Spain preparing to vote for third time in a year | Los Angeles Times
As Americans cast ballots this fall, they might spare a thought for Spaniards preparing to do the same — for the third time in a year, with little hope of actually electing a government. For nearly nine months, Spain has had only a caretaker, lame-duck government. Public infrastructure investment is on hold. Lawmakers have been unable to approve a new national budget. Some embassies are left with no ambassador. It’s the longest Spain has gone without elected officials since it became a democracy in 1978, and it’s testing the country’s fortitude. (Belgium is believed to hold the world record for a democracy going without an elected government: 589 days in 2010-11.) After a punishing economic crisis, two new national parties have emerged in Spain: Podemos, or We Can, on the left, and Ciudadanos, or Citizens, at the center-right. Both are led by fresh politicians in their 30s, challenging Spain’s 4-decade-old establishment of elites. The result? Absolute deadlock.
Spain’s Socialists will vote against the government of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote on Wednesday, party leader Pedro Sanchez told parliament, potentially triggering the countdown to a third national election in a year. Spain has been without a functioning government since inconclusive elections in June and December and parties are under pressure to end a political deadlock which has stalled investment and cast a pall over an economic recovery. But, on Wednesday, Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the opposition Socialists, which trailed Rajoy’s centre-right People’s Party (PP) in both elections, has steadfastly refused to back Rajoy who needs his party’s support to form a coalition. “I will be very clear, the Socialist party will vote against your candidacy to the government for coherence and for the good of Spain,” Sanchez told the parliament on Wednesday.
The clock starts ticking on Wednesday towards what could be Spain’s third national election in a year when acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy faces a confidence vote in parliament for a second term in office. Spain has been without a functioning government since inconclusive elections in December and June failed to hand a convincing mandate to any political party. So far, party leaders have been unable to agree on forming a coalition. The eight-month political deadlock has delayed investments in infrastructure such as roads and rail and put high-ranking government appointments on hold, leaving some Spanish embassies without an ambassador. Rajoy’s center-right People’s Party (PP) won the most votes in June’s election but lacks the majority it needs to win the vote even with support from centrists Ciudadanos (Citizens), Spain’s fourth-biggest party.
The separatist movement in Catalonia’s parliament has escalated its battle with Madrid after it defied Spain’s constitutional court by debating a controversial pro-independence roadmap, and the region’s president announced a confidence vote to consolidate the move towards sovereignty. The angry, last-minute debate – in which the pro-independence Together for Yes coalition and the smaller, far-left Popular Unity Candidacy secured approval for the unilateral disconnection plan by 72 votes to 11 – represents another open challenge to the Spanish judiciary and to Spain’s acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. It also provoked a furious reaction in the Catalan parliament from Ciudadanos and Popular party MPs who left the chamber rather than take part in a vote they described as “illegal” and flagrantly undemocratic. One Ciudadanos MP accused the separatist faction of “wanting to take us not only out of Spain and the EU, but out of the 21st century and modern democracy”. However, the president of the Catalan parliament, Together for Yes’s Carme Forcadell, insisted the parliament was exercising its sovereign rights.
The idea of re-running a vote when the first result is unsatisfactory has been getting a bad press recently. But Spain’s second general election in six months, on June 26th, showed that if the goal is to break a political deadlock, do-overs can be useful. The big winners were Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, and his centre-right People’s Party (PP). Though they failed to get an absolute majority, they took 33% of the vote, up from 29% in the December election, which was so splintered that no party could form a government. Now, with 137 seats in the 350-member Cortes (parliament), Mr Rajoy is set to remain prime minister, albeit at the head of a coalition or minority administration. The election’s big surprise was that Podemos, a new far-left party dedicated to reversing austerity and defenestrating the traditional political class, stalled. Contrary to all poll forecasts, it failed to overtake the more moderate Socialist Party to become the largest force on the left. Podemos had merged with the old Communists of the United Left party for this election, but the merged force won 1m fewer votes than its constituent parts did last time.
Spain’s repeat election on Sunday failed to clarify the political future of the European Union’s fifth-largest economy, with the main parties placing roughly the same as in December’s ballot, which brought six months of stalemate. The conservative Popular Party, which has ruled for the past four years, again collected the most votes in the election but fell short of the majority of 176 seats it needed in the 350-seat parliament to form a government on its own. With 97 percent of the votes counted late Sunday, incumbent Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party earned 137 seats in parliament. That is better than the 123 it won in December but still means it will need allies if it wants to govern. Its earlier efforts to find support from rival parties after December proved fruitless.