Author Archives: Martin Petts

Spanish liberals have everything to play for

The morning after the Spanish General election,  those of us who follow Spanish politics suffered from a sore head. The electorate gave no clear direction when the votes were counted last week, with the previous governing party winning first place, but with far fewer seats and votes and no viable combination of parties able to group together to form a stable government.

Those of us who  two weeks ago  had dreamed that Spain’s new centrist party, Ciudadanos, were about to break the mould and become, if not a governing party, at least the kingmakers, can be forgiven for being disappointed with the result. But put into perspective, a party that four years ago did not exist on a national level, with no infrastructure and a single issue policy platform, has burst onto the scene with 40 deputies in Congress, gaining 14 per cent of the vote.

There will now follow weeks of horse trading to try to build a government out of such a fractured parliament. Rajoy, as ever a poor imitation of Angela Merkel, initially seemed to open the door to a grand coalition with the Socialists, with his call for a stable government with a majority. A pact between the two largest parties is the only combination that could provide a majority government without an unwieldy coalition of small parties. But such a coalition would surely undermine the raison d’etre of the Socialist Party as an anti-Conservative force.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 4 Comments

Spain’s historic liberal opportunity

Albert_Rivera_-_02Buckling under the weight of economic stagnation, endemic corruption and institutional failure, the old duopoly in Spanish politics of the right-leaning Popular Party (PP) and centre-left Socialists is finally breaking down. With just days to go until the general election on 20 December, voters look to be splitting four ways. On the hard left, Podemos has profited from the frustrations of many, but in the centre ground Ciudadanos (C’s) offers new hope for liberal minded voters.

Liberalism tends to be a dirty word in Spain. The country has had precious few popular liberal movements in its history and the label tends to be hijacked by the right, meaning many Spaniards equate the term with a “one rule for them, one for us” mentality, or corporate cronyism.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Should Liberal Democrats accept defeat and join the two main parties?

Yesterday in The Times (£), Daniel Finkelstein, former SDP member turned Tory, writes that it’s all over for the Liberal Democrats. The best thing, he says, for those who wish to advance liberal ideas is to join whichever of the Tories and Labour they feel most comfortable with.

I would be lying if similar thoughts hadn’t crossed my mind, particularly after the 2015 general election. It’s heart breaking to see the party you support make steady progress throughout your adult life, culminating in entry into government in 2010, only to be seemingly pushed back to square one. Do we need to wait another 20 years to get back into government? Is that even a realistic objective anymore?

With the UK’s punishing electoral system working to maintain the two party status quo, does it make sense to be on the inside of that system, working for change, rather than pushed to the margins?

I think Finkelstein’s argument only really holds for those inside the Westminster elite. Yes, I can understand that if you’re an ambitious Liberal Democrat MP who has lost their job, you might now be wishing you’d jumped to one of the big two parties, where you might still be in government and looking to implement your ideas. But the argument isn’t really valid for anyone else.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 63 Comments

A letter from……Catalonia

As the UK plans a referendum on Scottish independence, those of us watching from Spain can only look on in envy at the orderly and civilised process led by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Here in Catalonia, Northern Spain, similar demand exists for an independent state, but the two sides have chosen indignation and confrontation instead of a serious debate.

The last two years have been tough for all EU governing parties and Spain has unique problems, with its sky-high unemployment levels, corruption and a rickety banking system. But this month Catalans will go to the polls in a general

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 8 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPaul Walter 29th May - 12:38am
    Jayne "You are correct, the programmes I mentioned are on Channel 4. A publicly owned, commercially funded organisation that has a remit that is not...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 29th May - 12:35am
    Jayne "It matters not that the BBC innovates and nurtures some programmes that prove popular in the long term. Having done so, if a programme...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 29th May - 12:28am
    Jayne "I have never watched any of the programmes that you mention, because as far as I am concerned, watching TV is mostly a mentally...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 29th May - 12:25am
    Jayne "PS. If Strictly Come Dancing’ , is challenging in that it teaches about intricate dance steps, its voting audience seem to be averse to...
  • User AvatarGeorge Kendall 28th May - 9:33pm
    @J Dunn But Sal Bringing supports reform that'd get rid of her job for life. If only Tory MPs in safe seats would do the...
  • User AvatarJ Dunn 28th May - 9:26pm
    "Sal.....pointing out that our democracy is far from perfect and essentially gave Ann Widdecombe a job for life." Our imperfect democracy seems to have worked...