ALTHOUGH he faces a confidence vote before parliament at the end of August, acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy has already proposed a date for a third general election if, as seems likely, he is voted down by the Socialists.
As if the mere prospect of a third general election in just one year wasn’t embarrassing enough, Rajoy’s choice of Christmas Day for the potential poll has ignited fury among opposition parties, who believe the PP leader is cynically trying to influence the vote in his favour.
Strict election timetable laws mean that the date for a subsequent vote is predetermined by the date of the investiture debate, and the Socialists have accused Rajoy of deliberately selecting the August 30 date to ensure that new elections are held on December 25.
On that date many young Spaniards – not Rajoy’s natural constituency – will be travelling across the country visiting family and be far less likely to participate given they’ll need to organise a postal vote.
Podemos and the Socialists also suspect Rajoy would be counting on the fact that a decreased turnout would be a proportionally far more significant blow to their prospects. Their young and working class constituencies are already struggling to see the point in democratic participation in an era of stalemate, economic misery, and a growing chasm between politicians and the people they supposedly represent.
Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez has a tough decision on his hands. He could decide to abstain from Rajoy’s confidence vote, thus handing the PP/Ciudadanos coalition power in a minority government, or stick to his pledge, vote down Rajoy and risk a disastrous Christmas Day election the PP would surely win in acrimonious circumstances.
If the Socialists abstain from the vote they risk Podemos claiming the mantle of the left and accusing them of selling out, but by rejecting Rajoy they could still see the wider electorate cast them as chief culprits in sending the nation to the polls yet again.
With the confidence vote looming, the Socialists have desperately put together a piece of legislation that would see the electoral timetable changed to avoid a Christmas vote, but it would of course require Rajoy’s support to pass parliament.