The Spanish election could kick off another round of eurozone angst

Spain's general election produced an uncertain result, with nobody able to form a majority government. That could lead to more turmoil in the eurozone. John Stepek explains why.


Spanish election: Nobody can fom a majority government

It's interesting that ahead of the New Year, we have more political turmoil brewing in the eurozone. This time it's in Spain.

Yesterday's general election produced a very uncertain result. The ruling Partido Popular won the most seats but not enough for a full-blown majority. Meanwhile, the opposition Socialists came second, with anti-austerity Podemos third.

The problem is that no politically possible combination of parties can form a majority government. As one pundit told the FT: "The chances that we will have a stable government that can last four years are quite limited". In fact, Spain could even need to hold a new election first thing next year.

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How much does this matter? After all, unlike Greece, Spain's economy is recovering, and we're far enough distant from the 2008 crisis now that markets have calmed down. The European Central Bank also remains as a backstop to the entire eurozone mess.

That's all true. And if the rest of the developed world has been anything to go by, then we're going to see a lot more money-printing in the eurozone in the future.

However, it does point to the far deeper, more fundamental issues that Europe is going to have to grapple with this year. How can it press on with further integration at a time when individual member countries are struggling to stay intact?

We always point out that Europe is a political project, which is why the economic absurdities inherent in the eurozone have so far been trumped by political will. But what happens when the political picture becomes so fragmented that no one can agree on anything? Perhaps this is the year we find out.

In the last issue of MoneyWeek magazine for the year out on 24 December our experts will be discussing the year gone by and what lies ahead for everything from oil to interest rates to bonds, to Europe. Don't miss it.

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John Stepek

John is the executive editor of MoneyWeek and writes our daily investment email, Money Morning. John graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in psychology in 1996 and has always been fascinated by the gap between the way the market works in theory and the way it works in practice, and by how our deep-rooted instincts work against our best interests as investors.

He started out in journalism by writing articles about the specific business challenges facing family firms. In 2003, he took a job on the finance desk of Teletext, where he spent two years covering the markets and breaking financial news. John joined MoneyWeek in 2005.

His work has been published in Families in Business, Shares magazine, Spear's Magazine, The Sunday Times, and The Spectator among others. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, BBC Radio Scotland, Newsnight, Daily Politics and Bloomberg. His first book, on contrarian investing, The Sceptical Investor, was released in March 2019. You can follow John on Twitter at @john_stepek.