Spain’s ultraright gets no support for toppling government
Madrid, Mar 21 (EFE).- The debate in Spain’s parliament over the ultraright’s censure motion against the country’s leftist government on Tuesday revealed the lack of support for the move, which is intended to force early elections.
The motion presented by the extreme rightist Vox party – with veteran 89-year-old economist Ramon Tamames, who has a communist past and is not a Vox member, as an independent candidate for prime minister – resulted in an intense exchange of criticism on the model for the country defended by the coalition government against the challenge from the ultraright.
Despite reiterating the ultraright’s renewal of its offer to the more moderate conservatives of the Popular Party, which leads the opposition, to topple the government headed by socialist Pedro Sanchez, the parliamentary debate confirmed the fact that the extreme right is alone in its interest in accelerating Spain’s general elections, which are scheduled for late this year.
Sanchez reproached those conservatives who are intending to abstain instead of voting against the move when it comes up for a vote on Thursday, saying that they are not distancing themselves enough from the extreme right in case they may need its support to govern after those elections.
The more moderate conservatives’ support for the no-confidence vote has failed to materialize even though they share with the extreme right the vision of returning Spain to the past to counter the social advances boasted about by the progressive government made up of the socialist PSOE and the leftist Unidas Podemos party.
Denial of problems like the climate crisis, a machismo attitude on advances in women’s rights and xenophobia vis-a-vis immigrants were some of the criticisms leveled by Sanchez at those proposing a “sterile” motion like the one that failed in 2020, also put forward by the ultraright but which the moderate conservatives voted against.
Meanwhile, Tamames did not specifically refer to moving up the elections, as demanded by Vox, so that they coincide with the municipal and regional votes scheduled for May throughout Spain.
He did agree with the ultraright in his harsh critique of the parliamentary support provided to Sanchez by independence-minded Catalans and Basques, on the government’s legal reforms regarding crimes such as embezzlement that in his opinion benefit the corrupt and of a foreign policy that – without consulting Parliament – may alter Madrid’s historical position on issues like the status of the Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.
Spain’s current government is “the worst … in decades,” according to Vox president Santiago Abascal, who also says that Sanchez is an “expired product” whose political agenda is “decaying” and thus it is necessary to put an end to “this circus legislature.”
Abascal has offered moderate conservatives a “clean slate,” despite the many disagreements between the two rightist groups, saying “Let’s vote together today. Let’s use tomorrow to offer Spaniards a solid alternative.”
Not participating in the debate was conservative opposition leader Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, who – although he could not make any remarks in Parliament because he’s not a lower house lawmaker – could certainly be present as an invited guest since he is a serving senator.
The motion for a no-confidence vote by Vox, the third-largest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the Spanish legislature’s lower house, will not garner the support of an absolute majority in the chamber since the ultrarightist party controls only 52 of the 350 seats, far from the 176 votes needed.
This is the sixth no-confidence vote to be put forward since democracy was reinstated in Spain in 1978, with the only one to have resulted in bringing down a government being that headed in 2018 by Sanchez against conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.
For the first time, the aspiring candidate for the premiership is not a member of the party that is presenting the motion and is not vying for it from the podium but rather from his legislative seat due to his mobility problems.