The Honeymoon Is Over for Spain’s New Socialist Government

The Honeymoon Is Over for Spain’s New Socialist Government
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez gives a press conference after a conversation with people affected by flooding, Sant Llorenc des Cardassar, Spain, Oct. 10, 2018 (Photo by Clara Margais for DPA via AP Images).

GRANADA, Spain—When Mariano Rajoy stepped down as prime minister in June in the wake of a no-confidence vote over a series of high-profile corruption scandals within his conservative Popular Party, hopes were high for his successor, Pedro Sanchez. The leader of the leftist opposition, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, or PSOE, Sanchez lost no time making moves to raise the domestic and international profile of his new administration.

First, he appointed a Cabinet primarily staffed by women—a historic first in Spain, and unusual in the whole of Europe. He then garnered international praise by allowing a ship carrying migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, the Aquarius, to dock in Valencia after Italy and Malta had both refused to allow the migrants to disembark. Sanchez has since taken steps toward defusing tensions in Catalonia, the autonomous region where the push for independence has created political gridlock between the central and regional government.

But just five months into power, there are warnings that the honeymoon period for Sanchez and the PSOE may already be over. His administration was immediately hit by a series of its own scandals, leading to the resignation of two Cabinet ministers. Former journalist Maxim Huerta stepped down less than a week after his appointment as culture minister, following accusations that he avoided paying taxes nearly a decade before. And last month, the health minister, Carmen Monton, also resigned—the latest in a string of Spanish politicians accused of fabricating or falsifying their degrees, in a scandal that journalists have termed “Mastergate.”

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