Spanish government falls amid Catalan crisis
16 February 2019
On Friday, two days after his budget was voted down in the Congress, Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called a snap general election for April 28. Sanchez’s government, the shortest-lived since the Transition from fascist to parliamentary democratic rule in 1978, fell over the state prosecution of Catalan political prisoners who organized or supported the October 1, 2017, independence referendum. They face up to 25 years in prison on false charges of having instigated violence during the referendum.
Sánchez criticized Catalan nationalist parliamentarians who voted down his budget in retaliation for his trying of the Catalan nationalist prisoners. “When some parties block the taking of decisions, it is necessary to call new elections,” he said. “There are parliamentary defeats that are social victories,” he added, claiming that supposedly progressive measures inscribed in the budget that the PSOE is abandoning meant that “citizens have seen what we wanted for the country.”
Other PSOE officials said they were happy to abandon the budget to focus instead on attacking the Catalan nationalists. “It’s too bad the budget was not approved, but paradoxically thanks to that we now have a line. The right cannot throw in our face the accusation of having any agreement with the separatists. It was something that hurt us and that provoked uncertainty in parts of our electorate,” a leading PSOE mayor told El Pais .
The PSOE is opening the door to the most right-wing campaign since 1978, in which the imposition of austerity and police-state rule is to proceed under cover of opposition to Catalan separatism. Elections in 2015 and 2016 produced hung…