New Spanish PM may be blast of fresh air

Pedro Sánchez has become Spain’s new prime minister after staging “a political coup that looked impossible just a few days previously”, says Bloomberg’s Esteban Duarte. Sánchez took advantage of a “surge of outrage” over a corruption scandal involving former prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s party to create “an unwieldy eight-party coalition” that removed Rajoy from office through a vote of no confidence in parliament.

While agreeing to continue with the recent budget, filling his cabinet with technocrats, Sánchez has hinted that, despite opposing Catalan independence, there is “an opportunity for a new understanding” with Catalan leaders. Nationalists regained control of Catalonia’s government on Saturday.

Sánchez certainly has his work cut out, says El País. Challenges range from Catalonia to the need to bolster Spain’s economic recovery, and time is ticking away. Not only does his government lack a solid majority, elections “loom”. Instead of radical reform, he should therefore focus on a message of “political, economic and constitutional stability”.

Sánchez shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere “placeholder”, says John Carlin in The Sunday Times. By engaging with Catalan separatists he can help shake off Spain’s “adolescent” political mentality. Meanwhile, the fact that he lacks Rajoy’s “chronic indecisiveness” and “authoritarian instincts” may be enough to blast fresh air through the prime ministerial palace and sweep away the “whiff of Francoist authoritarianism” that even today “infects large parts of the Spanish establishment”.