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  Hard lessons from Spanish liberals’ electoral collapse
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Nov 15, 2019 07:58pm
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AuthorDavid M. Herszenhorn
News DateMonday, November 11, 2019 07:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionAlbert Rivera, the leader of Spain's liberal Ciudadanos Party, soared to political celebrity naked — posing nude for a 2006 campaign ad in which he promised a refreshingly transparent political movement. "We don't care what clothes you wear," the ad declared. "We care about you."

With his resignation on Monday after a cataclysmic election result, Rivera appeared to exit politics much as he appeared in that buzzy ad: stripped down and with little to show supporters after his 13-year effort to build a new liberal-centrist movement except a strategically-placed hand to preserve his modesty. In Sunday's election, his party lost 47 of its 57 seats, shedding more than 2.5 million votes nationwide in the process.

But it is Brussels and the EU that could be left most exposed by the Spanish election results.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his center-left Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) still fell far short of a workable majority, leaving Spain — the fourth-largest of the EU27 countries — in continued political gridlock, and Sánchez himself in no position to claim much more of a role on the broader EU stage anytime soon.

Meanwhile the extremist, right-wing Vox party posted giant gains. It is now the country's third-largest political faction with 52 seats in the Congress of Deputies, showing the resilience of the Continent's nationalist, xenophobic political thread that continues to change and spread in unpredictable directions.

In Spain, the election exposed the dual miscalculations of Sánchez, who called the country's fourth national poll in four years hoping to break the deadlock that had prevented him from forming a government, and of Rivera, who had refused entreaties to enter into a partnership with the PSOE. But it also offers a cautionary tale for a new slate of EU leaders who are about to take office in an era of anti-establishment zeal among voters from España to Estonia.
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