Socialists will block return of PM Rajoy

Article @ Morning Star, published 22 December 2015

Leftwingers may still take over the Spanish government, as the Socialist Party (PSOE) confirmed yesterday that it would vote against the reappointment of rightwinger leader Mariano Rajoy as prime minister.

None of the four main parties achieved a majority in the new Spanish parliament. Mr Rajoy’s Partido Popular (PP) lost 64 seats but, on 123 of 350, remained the largest party.

The PSOE fared better than expected, gathering 22 per cent of the votes, and the PP also lost one third of its voters.

PSOE’s membership secretary Cesar Luena said: “We will be prudent and responsible at every step.

“What we are clear of is that we will reject the appointment of Rajoy.”

He added the party was “very ready” for coalition negotiations but that it was up to PP to make the first proposal.

Newcomer anti-austerity party Podemos had plenty of reasons to celebrate after becoming the third-largest party in the new Spanish parliament with a total of 68 MPs.

It gained victories in Catalonia and the Basque country, where it ran in coalition with local independence forces En Comu Podem and Equo respectively.

The party’s supporters also celebrated the election of Spain’s first black MP, Rita Bosaho, who ran in Valencia on another Podemos coalition ticket, Es El Moment.

In Madrid, thousands of Podemos voters assembled outside the Reina Sofia museum to watch the results unfold (pictured).

English teacher Laura Gonzales told the Star she had not expected the Spanish political situation to change until Podemos came along. Despite still considering herself an independent, she cast her votefor Pablo Iglesias’s two-year-old party and her elderly grandmother did the same.

“My grandmother changed her vote from PP to Podemos to support me and my generation,” she said, laughing. Half of Spain’s young people are unemployed.

Student David Roldan also stood by the purple movement because “Podemos represents the change that came with the youth of the 15M movement [Spain’s 2011 anti-austerity protests], it represents it politically.”

The party’s leadership joined the crowds in the early hours to the deafening sound of applause and chants of its famous slogan: “Si se puede [yes we can].”

Mr Iglesias delivered a rousing speech evoking the fight against fascism, workers’ and women’s struggles and ended on the words: “Tonight we can hear the immortal voice of Salvador Allende — history is ours, and it’s the people who make it.”

The night’s biggest disappointments were handed to centre-right populist party Ciudadanos, which despite gaining favour with the Spanish and international media was only able to pick up 14 per cent of the vote. And socialist coalition United Left lost nine of its 11 seats.