In December of last year, there was a general election in Spain. In recent years its original 2 party system has become fragmented, and the PP, the centre-right party led by Mariano Rajoy lost its overall majority. It was not possible for any combination of the 4 main parties to agree a coalition. As a result, under Spain’s constitution, a further general election was held in June of this year. In the interim, Mr Rajoy led a caretaker government, knowing that any controversial measured would be voted down easily.
The June election slightly strengthened Mr Rajoy’s position but at the time of writing no new coalition has been formed and Spain has been without a proper government for 8 months. One of the sticking-points is Mr Rajoy himself, who has been accused of turning a blind eye to some distinctly suspicious activities by members of his party. If he were to resign then a new PP leader would almost certainly be accepted as the PM. But Mr Rajoy will not step down and there appears to be no satisfactory method of removing him. Certainly a vote of no confidence by his own MPs would not work. There are parallels with the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn.
Having just returned from Spain it seemed to me that the economy is doing rather well. The construction industry, which is heavily dependant on the second home market in the south of the country, is active. New developments are being advertised and sites which were mothballed 5 years ago are being completed. New lifestyle magazines are being published and the formerly empty retail spaces are now occupied. The tourist industry in Spain is benefitting from the terrorist threats in France and Turkey and the chaos in Greece. It seems that no-one is missing the presence of a formally constituted government. People are just getting on with their lives.
There is still a youth unemployment problem, but it seems that Spanish youngsters prefer to stay at home with Mum and Dad rather than take lower paid employment. We were told by a Spanish friend that her cousin’s busy beach restaurant mainly employs Romanians because the locals do not want to taking waiting and kitchen-based jobs. This is a problem with which we have some experience in the UK – far too many of our service industries employ immigrant labour because they cannot find suitable local candidates. Addressing this will be another issue facing our new prime minister over the next few years.