BREXIT has already cast a shadow over Sunday’s Spanish general election with all the key party leaders expressing their disappointment with the result, although with varying interpretations as to what it means for the country and the continent.
Acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy was quick to link the referendum to growing demands for a vote on Catalonian independence, noting that such plebiscites “are a tool that must be used with great care”.
The Catalan question is one of many issues hindering compromise ahead of an election many expect to end in a similar deadlock to December’s result.
“I think I represent the feelings of the vast majority of Spaniards when I defend Spain’s commitment to the European integration process, the importance of euro zone stability and continuing the reform of our economic and monetary union,” said Rajoy on the Brexit vote, reinforcing his claim to represent stability and continuity amid Europe’s shifting sands.
Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist PSOE also used Brexit to take a dig at the party’s rivals on the left Podemos.
“Europe and Spain are experiencing tension between those who defend doing nothing and those who defend a break, such as those calling for referendums,” he argued, forcibly if inelegantly getting his point across.
For his part Pablo Iglesias of Podemos accepted that the vote meant that the European Union must change if it is to continue, and break with its neo-liberal tradition to better represent people of all nations struggling under the weight of austerity.
“It’s a sad day for Europe. We must change tack. Nobody would want to leave a Europe of fairness and solidarity. We need to change Europe,” while his electoral partner Alberto Garzon tweeted “the Brexit referendum is not the problem, it is the symptom of a EU made for business and built against the people.”
Meanwhile Ciudadanos, who had perhaps highlighted the importance of the Brexit vote for Spain more than any other country saw cause for optimism, seeing the result as “as an opportunity to relaunch the common European project.”
David Cameron and British conservatives committed a historical irresponsibility by calling a referendum whose goal was to stop the conservatives’ competitors at the British domestic level,” he added.
With Spain’s own stock market crashing in the wake of the result, and small businesses across the foreign dominated costas, voters on Sunday will have an additional headache to consider when making their decision, although it is unlikely to swing the pendulum either way.