Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party has won the Spanish elections in a session that confirms the end of bipolarity. Suffice it to think that PP obtained just 123 seats, a result that is far below the magic number of 176, which would have allowed them to govern alone; the socialists have stopped at 90, while the emerging Podemos and Ciudadanos remain respectively at 69 and 40. With these numbers, there are several possible scenarios, but the only one that may have the numbers for a stable government is also the only one not to have been even taken into consideration so far: a great – and new – PP-PSOE coalition. A solution on whose side there are only the numbers: From a political point of view, it is very likely that it would be perceived as a “corporative” move of the two main institutional parties. The parties would run the risk of paying a high price at the forthcoming elections, after having lost five million votes (in sum), compared to 2011.
It would make sense if – beyond all the pragmatic differences there are between the two formations – the goal was a constitutional reform with broad consensus, a reform the country actually needs. Yet it would happen at the worst possible moment: the Parliament looks too fragmented for such a solution – provided that PP, which has opposed it so far, will open to it -, to ensure success, not in the last instance because they would need a qualified two thirds majority; nonetheless, if these were the groundings for an agreement, the idea could take flight, but only as a temporary ”constituent government”.
The other possible coalitions are still rather distant from the goal. A right-wing coalition between PP and C`s would get 162 seats: it would need the 17 deputies of the Catalan nationalists (and maybe even the six Basque conservative deputies from PNV) to have the numbers, but it does not seem feasible that the first ones will be willing to cooperate with their worst “enemies” without asking, at least, a referendum on the right to decide. Equally unlikely seems the assent of the conservative side of Madrid. PSOE-Podemos would reach 160 with a better chance to an agreement – although forced – with the regional parties, but it would not have the vote to confidence if PP C`s does not vote against the Catalans and does not support them actively.
Everything said above is not to mention that both C`s and Podemos presented themselves as an alternative, not as potential partners, of their respective political family’s rivals and that a part of their electorate would frown upon such a coalition; yet, some field choices will needed to be made because one abstention (if not both simultaneously) would not guarantee the vote of confidence neither to a PP’s minority executive nor to PSOE’s, which alone would have to face the wall of a possible “negative majority”.
As to a “tripartite” government, the only one that is conceivable is that between PSOE, Podemos and C`s: over 200 members who, nonetheless, have little in common except their willingness to exclude PP from the game. There are about two months to find a solution to this complicated puzzle. Otherwise, there is going to be a return to the polls: a possible temptation both for conservatives and socialists, who may try to stress the impossibility of collaboration with the emerging parties; it does not mean, in any case, that this would be also the interpretation of the voters. We do not know how willing they are to give a second life to bipolarity without trying an alternative which has proved, even if only on the level of some regions, to be perfectly possible.