More Cork than Body – Difficult Starting Position for Spanish Government Cuvée


After months of agonising debates and under the influence of the Catalonia crisis, which has been intensifying for months now, Pedro Sánchez was re-elected prime minister last Tuesday. However, the price for his victory is high in many ways. The coalition between Sánchez’s socialists and the left-wing populist party Unidos Podemos, which despite months of negotiations was still considered impossible in the summer, has now been sealed in record time. This agreement encompassed substantial – particularly fiscal – concessions. Continue reading

Gambled Away: Government Formation in Spain More Complicated Than Before

Strong right-wing populists come in third – liberal party Ciudadanos crashes


Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Social Democratic PSOE (“Partido Socialista Obrero Español” – Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) have once again become the strongest force in Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, they have clearly missed their ultimate goal: to win votes in order to form a stable government. In fact, PSOE lost three mandates and now has 120 seats in Congress. The absolute majority requires 176 seats, but with the support of the left-wing populist party Unidos Podemos (“Together we can do it”) and the new Más País (“More Land”) the left-wing bloc only has 158 seats. For a progressive government majority, Sánchez would be dependent on the votes of various Catalan parties, which strive for the independence of the autonomous region and emerged strengthened from the 10N – it would be political harakiri. Continue reading

Spain Elects a New Parliament – Will There be a Government this Time?

Spain elects a new parliament for the fourth time in four years on 10 November


Spain will elect a new parliament for the fourth time in four years on 10 November (“10N”), after the failure of a coalition between the Social Democratic PSOE and the left-wing populist Unidos Podemos party. The elections are influenced by the worsening crisis in Catalonia, which has been shaken by violent protests since the judgments against the leaders behind the illegal independence referendum of 2017. There could also be further riots in Barcelona on the coming election Sunday. The central government is therefore sending additional security forces to the region to ensure that the elections run as smoothly as possible. Continue reading

Dahrendorf Taskforce Publication Series

RDTF Self determination

Regarding the revived independentist movements across the European Union particularly in Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders, questions in the context of peoples’ free choice of sovereignty and international political status have been raised. Besides the debate on how a potential secession would affect EU membership, the nations’ fundamental right to self-determination provokes a whole set of problematics. Continue reading

The Spanish slump – political crisis and the need for institutional reform

Construction site_ell brown_flickrSpain is caught in a vicious circle of debt crisis, low productivity, unemployment, public mistrust and centrifugal forces from which it does not seem to be able to emerge. At the end of April 2013, the government had to correct its economic forecast: The economy will shrink by 1.3% in 2013, compared to a previous estimate of 0.5%. Furthermore, a new record number of 6.2 million unemployed was announced. The government had to admit that the results of the previous reforms have not yet shown the expected results. On Friday, 29 of April, under pressure of the EU, Mariano Rajoy’s government presented a new austerity package to tackle public debt and the economic crisis. What is striking in the new reform package is a firm commitment to reduce the budget deficit. But the package does not include new measures; most are an extension or deepening of previous reforms.

What is even more striking is the government’s lack of commitment to in depth institutional reform. The conservatives are not willing to open the debate about the institutional changes that are requested by the citizens and necessary for economic recovery. An in depth assessment of the key democratic institutions, governing aspects such as the electoral law, the party law and the structure of the state, while advocated by many political actors, the civil society and the academia, are not being addressed by the traditional two parties – PP and PSOE.

To overcome the current economic and political crisis, Spain needs more than new policies, it needs a new institutional framework.

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