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Pedro Sánchez advances the general elections to July 23 before the fiasco of the autonomic


Highlights: The president summons and forces progressives to decide whether to mobilize to prevent a PP-Vox government. Dramatic election night for the PSOE and drastic and quick reaction of Pedro Sánchez the next morning. The risk of the PP governing with Vox is not something diffuse, but almost a certainty. The president could have taken other types of drastic decisions, such as changing his government, breaking the coalition or announcing some kind of change in his alliances, but none of them were as radical as this one.

The president summons and forces progressives to decide whether to mobilize to prevent a PP-Vox government

Dramatic election night for the PSOE and drastic and quick reaction of Pedro Sánchez the next morning. The President of the Government has decided to advance the general elections to July 23 due to the risk that a longer wear and tear of his Executive in the coming months, with a right emboldened after his resounding electoral success, ends with a resounding absolute majority of the PP and Vox. "I have taken this decision in view of the results of the regional and municipal elections. Many socialist presidents and mayors with impeccable management will be displaced, even though their support has increased. These institutions will be governed by the PP and Vox. The meaning of the vote conveys a message that goes further. I assume the results in the first person and I believe it is necessary to give an answer and submit our mandate to the will of the people. The Government has already pushed through the major reforms committed. Our country is preparing to carry out a very important responsibility such as the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. All this advises a clarification of the Spaniards on the political forces that should lead this phase and the policies to be applied. There is only one infallible method, which is democracy. The best thing is that the Spaniards take the floor to define without delay the political course of the country, "said Sánchez during a brief appearance on the steps of La Moncloa with a very serious gesture. The extraordinary Council of Ministers this afternoon will give legal form to the decision, which was communicated before to the head of state, Felipe VI.

Sánchez, accustomed to risky decisions throughout his career, has opted for the most dangerous of them all, but also the only one that nobody expected on election night. The president thus puts voters, especially progressives, in the position of having to decide almost immediately if they want to consolidate the result of the regional and municipal elections, which gives almost all power to the PP and Vox, and allow that to be what also reaches La Moncloa, or mobilize to prevent it. Sánchez even renounces the showcase that was the Spanish presidency of the EU and calls on the Spaniards to decide now, at the start of the semester.

Pedro Sánchez, during his appearance at La Moncloa on Monday. BORJA PUIG DE LA BELLACASA (AFP)

In 2019, also against all odds and when he had only been governing for a few months after the 2018 motion of censure, Sánchez also launched a risky electoral advance in April, which proved successful. At that time there was a great mobilization of the Spanish left in the face of the threat of Vox governing, which had just given the bell in Andalusia in December 2018. Four years have passed and Vox is no longer a hypothesis, but a growing reality, according to Sunday's results. And the PP has recovered a lot since 2019, when it obtained the worst results in its history in both the general and regional elections. Now, the risk of the PP governing with Vox is not something diffuse, but almost a certainty. Therefore, Sánchez plays it all or nothing very quickly, in a typical movement of him, to try desperately that an extraordinary mobilization of the left, which has not been seen anywhere in the municipal and autonomic, can work the miracle of stopping the conservative wave that has already been seen in several countries of Europe and now reaches Spain.

The president could have taken other types of drastic decisions, such as changing his government, breaking the coalition or announcing some kind of change in his alliances, but none of them were as radical as this one and all involved a maturation of months to finally arrive in a position similar to the December elections. Sánchez thus puts his own potential voters and those of the other groups of the majority before the position of deciding whether to let PP and Vox govern with the votes they achieved this Sunday – which according to the extrapolation made by EL PAÍS would not give them an absolute majority, although they could improve their result in general – or mobilize resoundingly to prevent it.

The risk assumed by the president – and with him the PSOE, Unidas Podemos and all the groups of the majority – is that the vote comes at a time of emotional high of the right, which has shown an extraordinary mobilization around the message of "repealing sanchismo", and this decision ends up improving even the majority of PP and Vox and sinking even more to the left. But Sánchez has already made decisions of this type in the past, such as the electoral advance of 2019 and, above all, the repetition of the elections that same year.

This last decision, also very risky, was totally unsuccessful. Sánchez took it convinced that progressive citizens would blame Podemos for the failure of the negotiations and he would have a much broader result by taking a share of the votes of Ciudadanos. It didn't happen. The PSOE lost three seats and did not take any of the 47 that Albert Rivera lost. And Podemos, which lost seven seats, held on. And that forced Sánchez, that same election night, as now, to make a quick and drastic decision: the next morning Iván Redondo was already calling the then chief of staff of Pablo Iglesias, Pablo Gentili, to close the coalition. In that electoral repetition some of the problems of the PSOE began to be forged: because with the previous result the coalition would have had 10 more seats, and would need much less to ERC and nothing to Bildu. And, in addition, the PSOE always had a plan b in the chamber because it added 180 seats with Ciudadanos. This repetition narrowed the space of the Socialists and also forced them to agree with many parties to carry out each of their reforms.

With this move, Sánchez also avoids months of discussions to his left to see how Sumar is organized. It forces that space led by Yolanda Díaz to regroup quickly to try to recover in desperation from the fiasco of the regional and municipal elections, where it has been very clear that division kills the left. Podemos has been left out of several parliaments and that has been decisive for the left to lose the Valencian Community and some decisive municipalities. Diaz quickly responded: "From this very moment we are working to win on July 23. I take up the challenge. These are times of audacity. Against the black Spain of Feijóo, we went out to win. People are waiting for us," he said on Twitter. Everything will go very fast. Sánchez has nipped in the bud months of discussion between Podemos and Yolanda Díaz: in 10 days there has to be an agreement or a break to present the candidacy of possible electoral coalitions. So they have to close their dispute now. In fact, the first talks to do so have already begun.

Incidentally, the leader of the PSOE also cancels any internal debate in his party about his campaign and his responsibility in the fall of presidents and socialist acaldes who were well valued and hoped to repeat but have been overwhelmed by a wave with a large component of national politics. There is no time for internal discussions or requests for changes in the Government or in the party: the PSOE is put from today in campaign and all the adjustments of accounts will be left for after the elections.

The dream of the president and his team is that something like 2008 will happen. Then, the erosion of the government and the demobilization of the left, also then partly critical of the agreements with the Catalan nationalists to reform the Estatut, led the PSOE to lose the municipal elections of 2007 by 150,000 votes against the PP with a very mobilized right and demonstrating in the streets against its anti-terrorist policy. But then, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and his team, led by José Blanco, Sánchez's mentor, launched an electoral campaign in 2008 with a resounding message: "if you don't go, they come back," read the huge posters with the photo of Eduardo Zaplana and Ángel Acebes. And so they achieved an extraordinary mobilization of the left around the PSOE – Zapatero devoured the IU vote – which led him to win Mariano Rajoy by more than a million votes.

Now things are much more difficult for the PSOE, which is much weaker – it has 120 seats compared to Zapatero's 164 when he arrived at the 2008 elections – and above all because the municipal elections have shown great weakness to its left. In addition to president, Sánchez is also secretary general of the PSOE, and with this decision he can also try to save the furniture of his party with a quick election without waiting for the wear and tear of the coming months. At the moment he has already lost a lot of power, and the barons and mayors have taken a kick that was probably for the Government, but with this move Sánchez can try to put the Socialists in a better position for the future if they fail to govern.

Follow the keys of the campaign with the Electoral Diary bulletin.

Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-05-29

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