Pedro Sanchez has a great appetite for high-stake political gambles. Perhaps the 51-year-old developed this appetite after one such political gamble installed him as Spain’s socialist prime minister in 2018. Mr Sanchez is at it again now. On May 29th, he called for a surprise snap election. For a change, Europe is hoping this time Mr Sanchez’s gamble pays off and the Spanish radical right is kept away from the seat of power. Spain does not even fancy joining the European Neo-Right Club, to sit next to Italy and Sweden. https://www.euronews.com/2023/05/29/spanish-pm-pedro- sanchez-calls-snap-general-election-for-july
Hope Spurs Mr Sanchez on
What happened in 2018 is a pointer to what could happen today. Mr Sanchez had then brought a vote of no-confidence in the centre-right government over an alleged slush-fund scandal. Mr Sanchez struck pay dirt and his gamble paid off. He was picked as Spain’s prime minister. It was surprising that Mr Sanchez succeeded despite his socialist faction having only 84 members in a 350-seat parliament and him being not even a sitting deputy. Perhaps Mr Sanchez is hoping for a replay of those heady power-propelled days now.
The hope seems to have spurred him on to make the snap-election call. Mr Sanchez’s thunderbolt came after his Socialist Party suffered a severe drubbing against the centre-right conservative Partido Popular, aka the People’s Party, and the radical right Vox Party, in the regional and municipal polls. The general elections will now be held on July 23rd, five months ahead of December 10th, the earlier date. A confident Mr Sanchez says he has informed King Felipe VI, the head of state, about his new gamble in his Moncloa palace in Madrid. https://www.ft.com/content/4b3f901e-d6b9-449c-b79b- 8fc02250ed15
A Tactical Move to Stir up
At the end of it, Mr Sanchez’s call for a snap election was not only surprising, it was bold as well. Mr Sánchez’s snap-election call deserves such an adjective as it comes when his fragile socialist coalition government is reeling under factional infighting. Driven by differences over a failed sexual law reform, his deputy prime minister and labour minister Yolanda Diaz has floated Sumar, her own left-wing alliance, to rival the radical-left Podemos, Mr Sanchez’s junior coalition partner in the government.
Video Courtesy: France 24 English
It seems thus Mr Sanchez has given these two parties ample time now, until 23 July, to iron out their differences and forge a united front. However, Mr Sanchez does not think so. He believes his tactical move will stir up Spanish voters to pine for his Socialist party. As Vox aspires to form a government and the Partido Popular president Alberto Núñez Feijóo is a centrist, Mr Sanchez believes a snap poll would put his Socialist party in a win-win situation. Europe hopes he is proved right. https://www.thelocal.es/20230529/profile-who-is-alberto- nunez-feijoo-and-could-he-be-spains-next-pm
Fear is Not Without Reason
Mr Sanchez’s calculation is that Partido will not be able to form the government without Vox, despite the former being averse to Vox’s brand of politics. Perhaps this is why the moderate Mr Feijóo has not ruled out post-poll deals with the far-right Vox. Spaniards are able to smell a rat here. They know well what they would get if Vox is voted in. They will not thus let Vox anywhere near the portals of power.
As the passive romance between Partido and Vox increases the chances of right-wing toxicity in Spain, the July elections may spell trouble for Spain and the whole of Europe. This fear is not without reason. In Finland, Italy and Sweden, and elsewhere in Europe, elections have installed authoritarians and despotic nationalists in power. Without exception, these far-right fanatics are stoking anti-immigrant fires and pitting different cultures against each other in needless rivalry. https://poliphoon.com/finland-too-is-fragmenting/
Catalan and Basque Links Worrisome
Worse, these fanatics have uniformly demonstrated their antipathy towards women and religious-and-sexual minorities. Their victims live with clipped rights in the tormented regions. They were all there congratulating Vox after its win in the local polls. Despite fractious domestic politics, Mr Sánchez can take heart in Spain’s positive economic story. Under him, Spain has emerged out of the energy crisis and has withstood the impact of soaring inflation. https://inspain.news/spain-escapes-recession-according-to-pm- sanchez/
However, Mr Sanchez’s dependence on the Catalans and the Basque Nationalist Party in the parliament is disconcerting. Particularly because these revolutionary groups boast of separatist ideologies and terrorist links. Yet, Mr Sanchez’s overall record has been good, but this is not helping him. Worse, unwittingly he has turned the spotlight on Vox now. Alarmed, the tall and good-looking Sanchez is now telling Spaniards to be careful about Vox. https://www.france24.com/en/live- news/20201128-spain-s-minority-government-relies-on- controversial-allies
Despite his warning, Mr Sanchez will be pitted against Vox in the July elections. Inevitably, he has brought Europe too in the far-right’s line of direct fire. Plus, he does not have much time for poll campaigns and preparations, as elections need to be held within 54 days of parliament’s dissolution. Reasons why calling for snap elections is a high-stake political gamble. All or Nothing seems to be Mr Sanchez’s approach. As the world watches in suspense, Europe fervently hopes Mr Sanchez’s gamble pays off.