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Opinion & Analysis

Uncertainty in Spain

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Spain has entered unknown political territory after Sunday’s general election and there are no clear outcomes. The prospect of weeks’ of tough coalition negotiations will make for an uncertain Christmas and New Year. It will be some time before we have a clear idea of the lay of the land ahead.

What does this all mean for Gibraltar? As with the Spanish result itself, it is too early to say.

In the run-up to polling day, all the main political parties contesting the Spanish election made clear they would pursue Spain’s sovereignty claim over the Rock, so in that respect nothing has changed.

There are obvious differences in approach between the left and the right in Spain when it comes to Gibraltar, but now is not the time to think about dialogue or cooperation beyond keeping basic lines of communication open.

Spain’s political topography is fractured and the dominance of the Partido Popular and the PSOE is over.

On Sunday, the PP dropped from an absolute parliamentary majority of 186 to 123 seats. Technically the party won the election, but the victory was pyrrhic and hid a big loss.

The PSOE too dropped from 110 seats to 90, under pressure from the left wing Podemos which surged to secure 69 MPs and the liberal Ciudadanos, which won another 40.

Spain has been shunted from two-party politics into a fragmented landscape where the battle lines are not clearly mapped out.

Electoral mathematics means fraught talks lie ahead as the parties ponder coalitions in order to reach the 176-seat parliamentary majority needed to take charge.

As the country works out who will govern and how, Gibraltar should lie low and avoid becoming an issue around which Spanish political parties can rally.

Spain has bigger, more pressing things to think about. The economy, high unemployment and a festering string of corruption scandals, to name but three.

Against that backdrop, Gibraltar is pretty much irrelevant.

Let us carry on with our business as usual, enjoy the festive season and wait to see how the dust settles in 2016.

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