‘High Volatility’ in Spain’s Snap Elections
On February 15, only 8½ months after becoming Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez called for snap general elections. The elections, to be held on April 28, again highlight Europe’s political turmoil.
The early elections were called after a parliamentary vote rejected the proposed national budget. In response, the socialist prime minister said, “One cannot govern without a budget. Between doing nothing and continuing without the budget and calling on Spaniards to have their say, I choose the second. Spain needs to keep advancing, progressing with tolerance.”
With its third election in four years on the way, a divided Spain shows no signs of uniting, and the region of Catalonia’s bid for independence is a major point of contention. Sánchez faces pressure from all sides and within his own party to cut his term short. And Catalan separatists have joined the opposition to vote down his 2019 national budget. The support that he gained from Catalan separatists and the opposition party in ousting former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last year disappeared upon his refusal to continue dialogue over Catalonia’s independence.
Jorge Galino, a Spanish sociologist and political scientist, illustrated the importance of Catalonia in this new round of elections. He told Euronews: “The call for early elections after less than a year of the Sánchez government demonstrates once again what we already knew: The Catalan question is the main source of instability for Spanish politics.” Germà Capdevila, political analyst for L’Esguard magazine, said that “until they find a political solution to Catalonia, this turmoil in Spanish politics is going to be here to stay.”
Despite the division, some have credited Sánchez for his hard stance on Catalonia. Juan José López Burniol, lawyer and political columnist for La Vanguardia, Catalonia’s biggest newspaper, said that calling fresh elections was the wisest decision, through which “Sánchez can present himself to the average Spanish voter as the politician who didn’t cross any red lines with the separatists.”
While Sánchez’s socialist party still appears to be leading, recent opinion polls indicate that no one party is likely to win the necessary 176 seats to form a majority. This means that even if the socialist party wins, it will likely have to form a coalition, adding to the political instability and infighting within Spain.
Reporting on these opinion polls, Bloomberg gave more insight into the situation. Using a consolidation of surveys published in El Pais on February 14, the Socialists are leading with 24 percent, while the conservative People’s Party has 21 percent and the liberal Ciudadanos party has 18 percent. Meanwhile, the nationalist party Vox has suddenly jumped from insignificance to 11 percent.
Vox won a shocking 12 seats in Andalusia’s regional election in December. It was the first far-right party to gain such success in Spain in more than four decades, since the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Its stance against immigration, opposition to Catalan independence, and calls for Gibraltar to return to Spanish control appeal to an increasing number of citizens in the midst of increasing European turmoil. Vox’s rapid rise on the political stage has led many to predict that the party’s success will continue to surge. Four separate polls conducted following Sánchez’s announcement of snap elections have predicted that Vox will have ministers elected to parliament—predictions range from 16 to 46 seats.
Many coalitions are possible, and several have suggested an alliance between the People’s Party, Ciudadanos and Vox, which allied in Andalusia to wrest power from the socialists. These parties have the harshest stance against Catalan independence.
With the extent of division within Spanish politics and the likelihood that no one party will gain the majority in the 350-seat parliament, Sánchez has aptly described the situation as one of “high volatility.”
The upcoming Spanish election reinforces the “high volatility” that is spreading throughout Europe. The Bible prophesies that out of this turmoil will emerge a united Europe, the last resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire—united for a short time to fulfill God’s will (Revelation 17:17). This united Europe, also called “the king of the north” (Daniel 11:40), is emerging right now.
Spain is bitterly divided. Separatists are working to bring down the government and divide the country. The unprecedented rise of far-right groups with a hard stance on immigration shows that the people want change. They are not happy with how the refugee crisis is being handled. Dissatisfaction is everywhere.
The dissatisfaction can be seen throughout Europe. Political, social and economic instability is spreading like a disease. Consider the weak coalition government in Germany, riots plaguing France, the United Kingdom pulling out of the EU altogether. Many other European countries face similar crises.
Following the 2008 financial crash and the 2015 migration crisis, all of Europe has been going through the same process—albeit with different, regional flavors. A significant minority has come to believe that the status quo is fundamentally flawed and that their country needs radical change. This has been reflected in the rise of radical parties—like the far-right Alternative für Deutschland in Germany and Vox in Spain. It has also led to the rise of separatist parties—as in Catalonia—where many embrace independence as the radical cure for their ills. In other countries you have unconventional groups, like the Five Star Movement in Italy, that embraces direct democracy and rejects politics as usual.
The effect is the same: Politics shatters. The mainstream parties cannot easily work with the new or extremist groups. But with the extremists siphoning off a significant portion of votes, no stable government is possible. Neither the mainstream left nor the mainstream right have enough support to form a government. They must either work with each other to form a left-right coalition—as in Germany—or work with the extremists—as in Austria.
Neither solution is ideal. Left-wing coalitions are awkward; they get little done and only convince more voters that radical change is needed, boosting the extremists. But bringing the extremists into government legitimizes them.
Once mainstream parties lose so much support that neither left nor right can rule by themselves, it is very hard to come back.
Europe went through the same downward spiral in the 1930s. Just like in the 1930s, Europe’s democracies have stopped working. What happens next?
For decades, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry, and before him Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong, forecast the rise of a strongman in Europe.
Mr. Flurry explained why in the cover article of the January Trumpet:
Daniel 8 is one of the most astonishing prophecies in the Bible, and you need to understand it.
The book of Daniel was written only for the end time (Daniel 12:4, 9). The last part of Daniel 8:17 says, “for at the time of the end shall be the vision.” It gets more specific in verse 19: “And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation ….” God wants us to realize the urgency of this prophecy. He talks about not only the end time, but the last end—the end of the end time!
Daniel prophesies that a strong leader will rise to power in Europe, or what is termed in Daniel 11:40 “the king of the north.” “And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up” (Daniel 8:23). God calls this leader “a king.” Again, this man leads “the king of the north,” this European superpower. …
This soon-coming ruler could literally be called a king. Even if he is not, the Bible gives him that title. When the Bible talks about a king, in most cases it is not referring to a democratic government. Even if this man doesn’t have the title of “king,” he will lead like an absolute monarch, like an authoritarian king right out of the Middle Ages. Daniel’s vision shows that the leadership of Europe is about to become a lot more authoritative. It’s not hard to imagine this happening, considering the growing appetite within Germany and Europe for exactly this type of leadership.
Mr. Flurry’s article was about Germany, but Spain is caught up in the same trend. For more information on the authoritarian leadership that this is leading to, read “Germany—A New King Is Imminent.”