The minority right-wing government of Rajoy’s Partido Popular fell on a motion of no confidence proposed by Sanchez, leader of the second Spanish party in terms of electoral strength, the social-democratic PSOE. The ostensible reason for the motion was the recent court decision implicating officials of the PP in a massive financial corruption case. But will the change make any basic difference?
In order to be successful, in addition to his own party’s votes, Sanchez had to call on the support of the elected representatives of Podemos, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Catalan representatives in the Spanish Parliament.
In proposing the vote, dedicating two seconds of his speech to the Catalans, he said that he would talk to them. He almost certainly promised the PNV beforehand that he would honour Rajoy’s recent budgetary sweetener for them. He may not have made Podemos any promises but with the PP having 137 seats out of the 350 in the Cortes (Spanish Parliament) and Sanches only having 90, with other right-wing parties having 48 between them, the social democrat is going to need all of Podemos’ 71 and all the rest of the help he can get for his party to stay in government.
The PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrera de Espana) was outlawed during Franco’s dictatorship but after Franco’s death was brought in out of the cold, along with the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) by a deal done during the Transición to the new way of running the Spanish state.
The PSOE has been in government before and collaborated with the monarchy which was imposed on the Spanish people by Franco and his successors. In addition, the PSOE was the party reputedly responsible for the creation of the GAL terrorist and assassination squads against the Basque national liberation movement during the 1980s; one of the PSOE Government’s Ministers went to jail over that and although it was widely believed that the Prime Minister was the main force behind the gangs he was never even questioned by the police.
During recent developments of the Catalan independence bid, Sanchez and the the PSOE’s Catalan version, PSC-PSOE (usually referred to simply as the PSC) were hardly less hostile to the Catalan independists than were the Spanish Government or Ciutadans (right-wing Catalan party with roots in the PP).
Nobody who understands history in general and that of the Spanish state in particular can believe that a PSOE Government is going to anything much else than fight tooth and nail against Catalan independence. But Sanchez might try the velvet glove before revealing the steel fist underneath. One thing he might do is to release on bail the Catalan elected representatives and cultural activists who have been in jail since October awaiting trial.