The World Today for July 20, 2023

NEED TO KNOW

Winning Minds, Losing Hearts

SPAIN

“Sanchismo” might be the wedge issue in Spain’s general election on July 23.

That’s because the center-right Partido Popular leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo and other conservative leaders are expected to defeat Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party – in part, because they have succeeded in convincing most Spaniards they should blame Sánchez for everything ailing the West European country.

The leader of the far-right Vox political party even said that Sánchez’s government was the worst in the country in the last 80 years, making him worse than Francisco Franco, the dictator who ran the country from 1939 to 1975. “Anti-Sanchismo therefore, can be understood as an emotional ploy, not a rational one,” wrote the Local Spain.

Outside Spain, in contrast, Sánchez appears to be doing a good job. Even the conservative, free marketeering Economist – no friend to left-wingers – described Sánchez as “reasonably successful.”

As the EUObserver noted, the Spanish economy is doing relatively well given the major problems that Europe faces, as post-pandemic inflation remains a problem and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hiked fuel and food costs. Sánchez also convinced European Union officials in Brussels to cap energy prices on the Iberian Peninsula, insulating his constituents from serious pain, Reuters added.

Many Catalans remain committed to seceding from the Spanish kingdom. But, as a London School of Economics blog explained, the Catalonian independence movement is divided. Unionists even gained some seats in the region’s elections in 2021.

Lastly, while corruption remains a serious problem in Spain, it’s not so bad in relative terms. The country has dropped one point in Transparency International’s corruption index for two years in a row, hardly a catastrophe but nonetheless a concerning trend. A criminal ring involving Socialist Party members in the Canary Islands has garnered headlines, however, tarnishing the party, Euractiv reported.

Sánchez called a snap election in May after his party suffered bruising defeats in local elections, the New York Times wrote. Perhaps he thought he could run on the positive aspects of his track record. Or maybe he figured he should appeal to voters now in a bid to keep his job before he lost even more support.

The world is now waiting to see whether the prime minister’s gamble will pay off, noted the Guardian. Sánchez instated a host of progressive policies like menstrual leave, expanded abortion rights, and made euthanasia legal, added National Public Radio. Conservative Catholics in Spain hardly welcomed those measures, of course.

Sometimes emotional responses to policies are perfectly reasonable, even to be expected. But they don’t always make for smart politics.

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