Mr. Sánchez wants to go it alone with his motion of no confidence, at least in public. With me or against, me or bust, I or not I, with apparently no firm offers made to any other parties, or even many, or any, phone calls between senior leaders. It might work, even like that. Or perhaps other parties' pride will be greater than their desire to oust Rajoy on Friday—the Spanish system requires majority agreement on a replacement, Mr. Sánchez—and the PP leader will continue to sleep soundly in Moncloa this weekend. There is also an outside possibility the PM might resign first and fall on his sword to save the party, should he believe the socialist leader is about to win the day. The Constitution allows for debating multiple motions at the same time, and Podemos could lend Ciudadanos three MPs to lodge another challenge, but reports suggest this would happen at some later point in time, not in parallel with the PSOE attempt this week.
Even if a general election is called early, as Ciudadanos is loudly demanding, what would that achieve for the country, for Spaniards?
The polls, where Ciudadanos is doing very well compared to the other three main parties—with a 7-10 point lead currently—are still just polls, and in both previous general elections they over- or under-estimated the vote for Albert Rivera or other parties. At the December 2015 ballot, they overestimated Ciudadanos by 4-9 points. At the June 2016 vote, pollsters got Ciudadanos and the PSOE about right but were way off with the Popular Party and Podemos. Perhaps, taking the margins of error into account, Mr. Rivera is less far ahead than he would like to believe. Perhaps the result would be an even greater lack of national clarity.
In any case, neither he nor the other three are anywhere near the level of support needed in Spain to enjoy an overall majority, which is about 44% of the vote, looking at the modern historical record. In no case are the polls predicting anyone will come out of the next election, whenever it is held, with a strong mandate from voters to run the country as they please. Worse, for him, the poll numbers are not even predicting Ciudadanos would reach the level of support currently enjoyed by Mr. Rajoy and the Popular Party.
If the polls are right and Mr. Rivera lucky, he might aspire, then, to becoming the weak lead partner in a coalition with the PP or PSOE as an even weaker junior partner. Given they are the senior parties in Spanish politics, they wouldn't take that very well, and Spanish politicians, as the last two-and-a-half years have demonstrated, are rubbish at coalitions or even occasional cross-party agreement in parliament to get some bill through, or repeal another. The bickering and posturing over whether or not to support Mr. Sánchez to get rid of Mr. Rajoy this week are but one more example of that.
Remember that the only way the nearly year-long national stalemate in 2015-2016 in Spain ended was not by elections or coalition agreements but by an internal PSOE—but establishment backed—hit job on Mr. Sánchez as Socialist Party leader. That led directly to the PSOE changing its stance on Mr. Rajoy being reappointed as Prime Minister. A wounded Sánchez, cast out into the political wilderness, clawed his way back to the party leadership by touring Spain and winning grassroots socialist support. Such an experience must still be very fresh in his mind, a relevant or even motivating factor this week.
In Catalonia, the rush to new elections under Mr. Rajoy's suspension of home rule in the region solved nothing. The new First Minister, Quim Torra, is even more radical than Mr. Puigdemont, and the central government is still blocking the appointment of his regional executive.
Mr. Rivera should be careful what he wishes for.
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