SARDONY debuted as a Royal prerogative in Spain as King Felipe VI publicly declared his “great satisfaction at seeing the new Congress in session” while preparing to meet party leaders to discuss how, and if, the formation of a new government might be achieved.
Acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy of the Partido Popular will be given one week to shore up enough cross party support to secure his resumption of the role he held from 2011, until 2015’s inconclusive election set Spain on its present trajectory of caretaker governance and political instability.
Under Article 99 of the Spanish constitution the Monarch acts as a mediating force between political parties, a role hitherto underdeveloped as either the PP or PSOE have normally secured a parliamentary majority.
Over the course of the next few weeks Felipe will meet with representatives from 12 parties in parliament, with the exception of Bildu and the ERC, respectively Basque and Catalan nationalists who have declined to symbolically accept his authority.
The key meetings will be with Rajoy and the PSOE’s Pedro Sanchez, the only two candidates with serious potential to become prime minister, although Rajoy has not officially declared his willingness to submit to an investiture vote, at least until he is certain it will succeed.
Following December’s inconclusive election, Rajoy declined to put himself forward while Sanchez stepped up to the plate but was thwarted by Podemos who refused to support his candidacy.
Should the same process unfold and the King be unable to help the rival leaders reconcile their differences then the country will be forced into a third election at a time when international institutions and markets are pressuring the state to focus on the budget and economic concerns rather than endless posturing.