Spanish politics: Restless and resentful

SPAIN is facing a year of bruising, confrontational politics, with several elections that could result in dramatic changes in the way the country is governed. Not least, the constitution, which has underpinned democracy ever since 1978, may not survive in its present form. The prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, and his centre-right Popular Party (PP) may soon find themselves fighting on two fronts at once: trying to save Spain from disintegration if snap elections based around independence are held in Catalonia; and fighting to stop the PP being kicked into third place nationally when other regions and municipalities vote in May.Nor do Mr Rajoy’s troubles end there. A general election looms in December 2015 which could result in either the Socialists or an upstart leftist party, Podemos, ousting Mr Rajoy and dismantling economic reforms brought in to tackle Spain’s debt crisis. The country is now outperforming most of the rest of Europe. But the scars left by austerity and a lengthy recession have not yet healed. Unemployment remains at 24% and GDP is still below its previous peak.The timing of a Catalan election depends on the regional president, Artur Mas. He wants a quick vote to serve as a plebiscite on independence, but is also anxious not to hand power to his rival, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party. To that end he wants the ERC to stand on the same list as the…

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