It is difficult for civil society and journalism to digest coalition governments. They long for those times when a plenipotentiary electoral leader was the only interlocutor. But political complexity is here to stay and in some territories, such as Catalonia, the Basque Country or the Canary Islands, it is the norm. In others such as Valencia or the Spanish Government itself, it is a novelty to which everyone is adapting. In other countries, such as Germany, they have not only had coalition governments for decades but are capable, as has just happened with the so-called semaphore coalition, of organizing them above ideological blocs. It also happens in some way in Catalonia, where the national axis has carried the weight in the last decade when it comes to organizing majorities.

The ghost of the far right

Everytime that Pablo Casado takes a step to show that, if necessary, it will govern with the support of Vox, it gives oxygen to Pedro Sanchez. After two years, the main, and almost unique, mortar of the majority of the PSOE and Podemos, and of their parliamentary partners, is to cut the way to the extreme right of Vox. Why does the PNV stoically hold the agreements with Bildu without leaving the Government lying down? Because he knows that a PP dominated by Vox would be an even worse negotiating counterpart. Why does Esquerra put up with the vacillations with Minister Calviño who confuses emission quotas with production quotas? Because he knows that his main strategic bet, the negotiation table, would last between five and ten seconds if the tenant of the Moncloa changes. Sánchez and his cabinet of negotiators push that rope to the limit, thinking that it will never break. Until I do.

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Junts neglects to take care of the CUP

Something similar happens in Catalonia. Esquerra imposed himself at the beginning of the legislature that he would not agree with the PSC by identifying it as a promoter of the application of article 155 of the Constitution in 2017. His project to gain time to consolidate the presidency and expand its majority is, therefore, in the hands of his main adversary to get it, Junts. So that the strategy is contradictory with the tactic: replacing Junts means living with Junts. And for those of Puigdemont, the virtual abyss of 155, is what gives them scope to plant Aragonese when it suits them, be it at the negotiating table or on the budget. In addition, it forces those of Junqueras to endure the graces of the CUP that wear down anyone. Aragonès tightened the rope coming out of that mousetrap and agreeing with the Commons on the budget, but he knows, and Junts does not stop reminding him, that this is a path of no return if he takes it to the last consequences. And Junts takes advantage of it to try to gain weight in the coalition, it lacks an effective leadership that is not thousands of kilometers away.

Negative coalitions

Political scientists call these types of agreements “negative coalitions”. Forces add up against another, not in favor of your own program. The German traffic light could also be understood in this way, they are the pact against Merkel and also against those in the former canceller’s party who flirt with the idea, taboo in Germany, of approaching the extreme right. In the Catalan case, that otherness against which it is agreed may end up being the only possible majority as soon as Illa continues to add support without crutches from other constitutionalists. In the Spanish case, the great challenge of the negative coalition against the PP is the credibility of the person who presides over it. Pedro Sánchez has fought many battles in a very short time and accumulates more wounds than he appears. Someone interpreted her July makeover as seeking match brand support in the face of personal brand wear and tear. In the end, there are too many people who have negotiated with Sánchez who no longer know where the ball is, such as the PNV or Esquerra this week, and who do not leave the table just out of fear of Vox. The thing is, when will that patience end? Especially if a powerful personal brand like Yolanda Díaz manages to articulate a party brand that groups together everything to the right of Podemos, although I’m afraid they don’t read women’s magazines, such as I donate, in the newspapers they encourage the PP to throw himself into the arms of Vox.

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