Spain’s Political Gridlock

Spain's Political Gridlock

Stefan Leonard

Ever since Spain’s bloody civil war, the country has been plagued with political corruption. The main factor that contributed to the start of Spain’s civil war was the socio-economic divide in the country. This divide only served to fuel the hatred of Spain’s citizens, creating chaos and instability within the country. This ultimately lead General Francisco Franco to lead his army to overthrow the democratic government of the time: The Second Spanish Republic. This act of revolt contributed to a total of 200,000 deaths, as the Spanish people of the time sacrificed their lives for their political views. It was truly a fight between conflicting political ideologies. However, in the end, General Franco blew out the candle of democracy in Spain and installed a unitary one-party dictatorship which dominated the country for 36 years. Now, Spain is trying to fix the damages caused by Franco and his regime, leaving the country divided once more.

In recent news, Spain is engaged in a political deadlock as no legislature is able to be passed without the intervention of another party. There are currently fourteen different political parties in Spain and the ideologies of these parties range from right-wing populism to democratic socialism. The main reason for this divide is because of Spain’s bloody past. Everyone wants to try and fix Spain, however, when fourteen different politicians with fourteen different radical views try and assume some power to make reforms in the country, they are stopped by the other thirteen parties. In order to demonstrate this political divide, Raphael Minder of the New York Times states that four years ago, five parties won ten percent of the vote in the spring election (Minder). This just goes to show that the people of Spain cannot seem to come together and decide on one or even two political parties. It is almost as if the politicians get an equal percentage of votes, with no clear distinction of a majority. Spain is trapped in an endless cycle with no real end in sight. However, some speculate the end of Spain’s political gridlock due to Pedro Sanchèz of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (also known as the PSOE) being elected as Spain’s Prime Minister.

Although Spain’s recent election provides some hope for the people of Spain, it will certainly not end the problem at hand. This election is a huge win for Spain’s socialist party, but many are blinded by it and fail to acknowledge the prominent divide in Spain’s Congress. There are 350 seats in the Chambers of Deputies and currently, the PSOE holds the most seats at 120 (Giles). Even though PSOE holds the most seats, no one holds the majority in Congress and this is where the problem originates. Every time the PSOE wants to pass legislature that helps them reach their own political goals, the People’s Party or the Vox party immediately reject their proposition. Another problem that persists in Spain is the rise of the far-right Vox party. The Vox party holds an anti-immigration stance, and as the number of African immigrants into Spain has increased over the years, the party’s popularity began to skyrocket. In just the last year, Vox has gained 24 seats in Congress, which shows their rise of power (Hedgecoe). However, the problem in all of this is that other politicians, like Sanchèz, refuse to acknowledge the Vox party’s rise of power. They simply look out for the betterment of their own political parties and not the entirety of Spain, ultimately contributing to the polarization.

As we have been told time and time again in our history classes, history repeats itself. Unfortunately for Spain, it seems as though they are repeating the devastating events that led up to their civil war in the 20thcentury. Catalonia is a perfect example of this mentality, as the people were essentially willing to fight to break away from Spain. But as the body of Franco was moved from a mausoleum to a cemetery, we are reminded of what is at stake for Spain. If they are not able to come together and make some serious reforms, then we will most likely see the collapse of their labor markets and pension systems, and quite possibly another civil war.