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Candidates for President of the Government of Spain

Tomorrow general elections are held in Spain and the American newspaper New York Times has published a devastating article in which it is harshly charging candidates from all parties and augurs a complicated future for the Iberian country.

The newspaper describes the candidates of PSOE, PP and Ciudadanos, the current president Pedro Sánchez included, as a "trio of immature youngsters". While the one who is "Maduro" is Pablo Iglesias, but he is reminded of his past as "old Bolivarian."

The article is titled "Spain: You're in trouble" and is signed by journalist Diego Fonseca. It states, among other things, that the debates saw "a set of political parties led by a trio of immature youngsters unable to demonstrate that they can discuss the future of 47 million people without embarking on a school playground fight."

Fonseca does not hesitate to say that the "spectacle of the debates was shameful because there was no better opportunity to explain proposals" and that Rivera, Casado and Sánchez "- a triad of gentlemen! -" sounded "grotesque talking about feminism and everyone slipped when They had to improvise their proposal for culture. "

To get to know the candidates better, we show you a profile of each one of them, from the hand of the Sputnik news agency.

Pedro Sánchez: the survivor who wants to remain in the Government of Spain

The current president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, (Madrid, 1972) repeats in these general elections as a candidate of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), to try to stay in office.

It is the third time that Sanchez is presented to a general election as head of list.

The first was in the 2015 general elections, Sanchez led the candidacy of a PSOE that obtained the worst result in its history with 90 seats and 22 percent of votes, being behind the leader of the PP, Mariano Rajoy.

In view of the parliamentary arithmetic born of those elections, Mariano Rajoy rejected the commission of King Felipe VI to try to be invested and the monarch transferred the assignment to Sánchez.

After months of negotiations with political groups, Sánchez failed in his attempt to enlist the support of two bands of ideologically far-removed forces: the Liberals of Ciudadanos and the formation of the Podemos lefts.

In addition, the candidate did not get the support of the Catalan separatist formations, which demanded the holding of a referendum of self-determination recognized from Madrid, something to which he refused at all times.

Sanchez came to appear on two occasions to the investiture session with the only relevant support Citizens, which was insufficient to achieve the presidency of the Government.

After the two unsuccessful endorsements, new elections were called, held in June 2016, in which Sanchez returned to lead the PSOE, reaping again the worst results in the history of the formation: 84 seats with 22 percent of votes.

The distribution of seats made it difficult again for the formation of majorities for the formation of Government: Sanchez did not know how to get along with Podemos and the independence parties, while Rajoy - who was again the most voted - was not enough with the support of Ciudadanos.

Finally, after 10 months of a government in office, and before the possibility of a third consecutive elections, began to grow in the PSOE the voices that asked Sanchez to allow the formation of a conservative Executive to unblock the situation.

However, Sanchez clung to the motto "is not no," popularized among his supporters to express his rejection of Rajoy.

In this context, the PSOE experienced one of the greatest internal crises in its history. The president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz - who supported Sánchez in her career to the general secretariat in 2014 - led a rebellious movement in which different members of the PSOE Federal Executive submitted their resignation.

This led to the celebration of a tense Federal Committee in which Sanchez noted the loss of support within the party. Consequently, Sanchez resigned as general secretary in October 2016 and a Management Commission took the reins of the PSOE, whose deputies abstained allowing the investiture of Rajoy.

The Government of Rajoy holds in power until June 2018, when after the ruling of the Gürtel case, which condemns the Popular Party as a lucrative contributor to a corrupt plot, Sanchez got the necessary support to overthrow the Popular Party Government through a motion of censure.

Therefore, the socialist leader arrived at the Palacio de la Moncloa -sede of the Spanish Government- after overcoming very convulsive stages both in national politics and in his own party.

The still president of the Government has a doctorate in Economic Sciences and for several years he taught at the Camilo José Cela University in Madrid. Before his time as a university professor, he was advisor to the European Parliament (1998) and chief of staff of the United Nations High Representative in Bosnia during the Kosovo War (1999).

Upon his return to Spain, he worked as Director of International Relations in the Organization of Consumers and Users (2000) and as Economic Adviser of the Federal Executive Commission of the PSOE between 2000 and 2004, after which he managed to make a career in the game.

Since then, he held various positions at the municipal level until becoming a national deputy in 2009 and finally head of the list in 2015.

Father of two children and a basketball player at the highest level until he was 21 years old, Sánchez is a young face in a centennial match.

According to all the polls, the PSOE will be the most voted force next Sunday, however, it will not get an absolute majority, so Sánchez will have to manage that success in a situation of parliamentary weakness.

On the last day of the campaign, he advanced that he does not see "any problem" in governing with the leftist force We can not even incorporate members of this party "in the future".

"I do not have a patrimonial or monopolistic sense of power," he explained on the last day of the campaign.

Pablo Iglesias, the alternative of lefts that asks for step despite being in low hours

La coalición de izquierda Unidas Podemos, encabezada por Pablo Iglesias (Madrid, 1978), aspira a ser más influyente que nunca tras las elecciones del próximo domingo pese a que la formación perdió la efervescencia que le hizo irrumpir con fuerza en el panorama político español en 2014.

Unidas Podemos está lejos de suponer la alternativa a la izquierda del Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) que aspiraba a ser en las elecciones generales de 2016, cuando muchos sondeos anunciaban un «sorpasso» que finalmente no sucedió, dejando a esta joven coalición –nacida de la unión de Podemos e Izquierda Unida– como el tercer partido más votado.

Ahora el escenario es distinto: los sondeos anuncian que el PSOE de Pedro Sánchez será el partido más votado en las elecciones, pero en un panorama fracturado que le obligará a buscar pactos con otros partidos para llegar a La Moncloa si los números lo permiten.

La formación liderada por Pablo Iglesias afronta estas elecciones con un pronóstico bastante pobre en relación a 2016, ya que la mayoría de sondeos les sitúan como cuarta fuerza política del país por detrás del PSOE, del conservador Partido Popular y de los liberales de Ciudadanos.

Incluso algunos estudios pronostican que la formación ultraderechista Vox podría sacar más escaños que Unidas Podemos, lo que relegaría a los izquierdistas al quinto puesto.

Sin embargo, el fragmentado escenario y la necesidad de Pedro Sánchez de buscar apoyos sitúa a Unidas Podemos más cerca que nunca de entrar al Gobierno.

A lo largo de la campaña, Pablo Iglesias defendió en distintas ocasiones que se acabó la España de los gobiernos monocolor y que a partir de ahora todo aquel que quiera ocupar la presidencia deberá asumir la entrada en el Ejecutivo de otras formaciones.

En ese sentido, la batalla de Unidas Podemos en estos comicios consiste en consolidarse como un recurso ineludible para que el PSOE vuelva al Gobierno, alejando la posibilidad de un pacto con Ciudadanos y arrastrando a Pedro Sánchez a posiciones más de izquierdas.

Unidas Podemos apoya la propuesta de los partidos catalanes para celebrar un referéndum de autodeterminación, lo que además le sitúa en una situación preferente para actuar como intermediario entre el PSOE y los independentistas en caso de que sus votos también sean necesarios para una eventual investidura.

En la pasada legislatura Unidas Podemos ya jugó un papel esencial a la hora de construir la mayoría parlamentaria que aprobó la moción de censura contra el conservador Mariano Rajoy para poner en su lugar a Pedro Sánchez.

Además, en los meses de Sánchez al frente de Gobierno, Unidas Podemos se convirtió en el principal socio parlamentario del PSOE para sacar adelante distintas medidas sociales, entre las que destacan la subida del salario mínimo.

En las elecciones españolas no se votan candidatos a la presidencia sino los candidatos a ocupar los 350 escaños del Congreso de los Diputados, donde los representantes electos eligen al presidente del Gobierno. No obstante, lo habitual es que los partidos dejen claro antes de las elecciones cuál es su apuesta para la presidencia. En el caso de Unidas Podemos es Pablo Iglesias.

Antes de dar el salto a la política Iglesias fue profesor de Ciencias Políticas en la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, desde donde un grupo de académicos fraguaron la creación de Podemos en 2014 al calor del legado del movimiento de los «indignados» del 15-M.

Líder de Podemos desde sus inicios, la irrupción de este partido llevó a Iglesias a ser eurodiputado entre 2014 y 2015, cuando dejó su puesto en Bruselas para presentarse a las elecciones españolas siendo elegido como diputado, cargo que sigue ostentando.

Desde su nacimiento el sino de esta formación política estuvo plagado de altibajos: de los triunfos que llevaron a sus candidaturas hermanas a ganar las alcaldías de Barcelona y Madrid en 2015 y de la esperanza del «sorpasso» al PSOE se pasó a ver cómo tras las elecciones de 2016 el Partido Popular volvía al Gobierno.

Además, la trayectoria de Podemos desde su creación estuvo marcada por los constantes desacuerdos y crisis internas, que en los últimos meses llevaron a varios de sus fundadores a dejar el partido, dañando mucho su imagen.

En adición, el partido y en especial la figura de Pablo Iglesias fueron víctimas de un acoso mediático e incluso policial a través de las llamadas «cloacas del Estado», un supuesto entramado corrupto dirigido desde el Ministerio del Interior cuando gobernaba el PP.

Este entramado se dedicó supuestamente a fabricar pruebas falsas contra Podemos, pruebas que después eran publicadas por ciertos medios de comunicación, causando un gran daño sobre la imagen del partido en un momento en el que aspiraba a convertirse en una fuerza hegemónica de la izquierda.

Actualmente el escándalo de las «cloacas del Estado» está siendo investigado en la Audiencia Nacional, dejando revelaciones como que algunas de las informaciones publicadas contra Podemos contenían datos conseguidos a través del robo de dispositivos electrónicos a los asesores de Iglesias.

Todo ello fue utilizado por Pablo Iglesias durante la campaña no para venderse como una víctima, sino para intentar sacar pecho, afirmando la razón de ser de todas esas maniobras es que «a Podemos no le pueden comprar».

Santiago Abascal, the landing of right-wing national-populism in Spain

El partido ultraderechista Vox entrará con fuerza en el Congreso de los Diputados en las elecciones de este domingo en España, confirmando el aterrizaje de una ultraderecha que, liderada por Santiago Abascal (Bilbao, 1976), se alimenta de los ecos del nacional-populismo conservador de Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini o Jair Bolsonaro.

Santiago Abascal, presidente de Vox, es posiblemente el líder político más desconocido a nivel internacional entre todos los que lideran candidaturas de peso en las elecciones españolas de este domingo.

Su formación, creada en 2013, no tuvo representación en ningún parlamento español hasta el pasado mes de diciembre, cuando Vox irrumpió con fuerza en las elecciones de Andalucía.

Desde entonces Vox se encuentra en línea ascendente y en estas elecciones aspira a ocupar el espacio político a la derecha del Partido Popular, un espacio en el que tradicionalmente solo había espacio para el propio PP.

Santiago Abascal es licenciado en sociología y, aunque pueda parecer una figura nueva en la política española, prácticamente toda su carrera profesional está ligada al Partido Popular.

Además, en su familia también existe una tradición política conservadora: durante el franquismo, su abuelo fue alcalde de una pequeña localidad alavesa llamada Amurrio  y su padre ocupó durante más de 35 años distintas responsabilidades en el PP de Álava, coincidiendo con los años de mayor actividad del terrorismo de ETA en el País Vasco.

Abascal se afilió al Partido Popular con 18 años y, a la edad de 23 accedió por primera vez a un cargo público como concejal en un pequeño ayuntamiento de Álava.

De la política local dio el salto a la autonómica, ocupando un escaño en el Parlamento Vasco desde 2004 a 2009.

En 2010 fue nombrado director de la Agencia de Protección de Datos de la Comunidad de Madrid, un cargo de libre designación que dependía del gobierno autonómico, en aquellos momentos en manos de la expresidenta madrileña Esperanza Aguirre, representante del ala más conservadora del Partido Popular.

En 2013, Abascal abandonó el Partido Popular, formación a la que ahora se refiere como «derechita cobarde», y se sumó a Vox.

Vox fue impulsado por un grupo de críticos con la dirección de Mariano Rajoy al frente del Partido Popular, del que empezaron a renegar por una supuesta falta de mano dura contra el independentismo catalán y el nacionalismo vasco.

A modo de ejemplo, es significativo recordar que en 2012, después de que ETA anunciara el cese definitivo de sus actividades, un Abascal descontento ante la posibilidad de un cierre en falso del conflicto afirmó lo siguiente: «Para mis hijos deseo otra cosa: una España unida. Prefiero que vayan con escolta en una España unida que libres en una España rota».

El ideario político de Abascal se caracteriza, sobre todo, por la defensa de la unidad de España, las apelaciones al pasado glorioso de la nación y la defensa de la familia como núcleo de una sociedad donde las tradiciones católicas tienen una posición preponderante.

En los años siguientes, ya en Vox, Abascal fue un ‘ajeno’ de la actividad institucional en España hasta que en los últimos meses, utilizando la crisis en Cataluña como caldo de cultivo, su discurso ultranacionalista consiguió arraigar, propiciando su irrupción en Andalucía.

El discurso de Abascal, además de centrarse en la defensa de la unidad de España, también comprende continuos ataques a los colectivos feministas, a la comunidad inmigrante y, en general, a cualquier posicionamiento progresista.

Las encuestas pronostican que Vox conseguirá en torno al 10 por ciento de los votos, lo que le situaría como quinta fuerza política del país, accediendo aproximadamente a 30 de los 350 escaños que componen el Parlamento de los Diputados.

Sin embargo, todos los estudios publicados hasta la fecha señalan que en estas elecciones hay un gran porcentaje de votantes (más del 20 por ciento) que no decidirán su voto hasta última hora, lo que podría provocar grandes cambios sobre las proyecciones disponibles.

Pese a las continuas críticas a su antiguo partido, dentro del fragmentado escenario con el que España se conduce a estas elecciones, la formación de Abascal se enmarca en el bloque de la derecha, cuyas posibilidades de gobernar pasan por que los escaños de Vox, Ciudadanos y Partido Popular sumen una mayoría suficiente para otorgar la presidencia a estos últimos.

Pablo Casado: The leader who tries to keep the Partido Popular afloat

The leader of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado (Palencia, 1981), the youngest of the candidates, debuts in these elections on April 28 as head of the list in one of the most difficult elections for his party.

Married was elected as leader of the PP and successor to former president Mariano Rajoy in an extraordinary congress of the conservative formation last July.

The candidate represented with his internal victory a turn towards more conservative positions, to compete for the political space that in these elections tries to occupy the formation of the extreme right Vox.

Despite his youth, the new president of the Popular Party has been integrated into the formation structures for more than 15 years.

He joined the PP in 2003 and only two years later was elected president of the New Generations of the party in Madrid, a position he held until 2013.

In 2007 he was elected regional deputy in Madrid and in 2011 he made the leap to the national Parliament as a deputy for Avila, province of Castilla y León, from which he comes.

In his curriculum highlights that between 2009 and 2012 was director of the cabinet of former President of the Government José María Aznar, whose hard tone in the speech seems to have inherited.

The main jump of Casado to the first political line occurs in 2015, when he was elected deputy secretary general of communication by Mariano Rajoy, which allowed him to have a large media presence to date, being usual his appearances before the press or his participation in the media.

Married is notorious for the harshness of his speech, which has led him to star in different polemics.

Casado's fierce opposition to the Catalan independence movement is one of the central axes of his proposal, which proclaims itself the representative of the "Spain of balconies", in reference to the people who, on the occasion of the political crisis in Catalonia, decided to show their support for the unity of Spain by hanging flags on windows and balconies of their homes.

Married always reiterated his "loyalty to the Constitution" and raised, among other issues, a reinforcement of the Penal Code to "avoid any secessionist challenge", with proposals that go through the recovery of the crime of improper sedition.

Among the candidate's proposals, he proposes "lowering taxes" or reversing some of the social measures approved by the Socialists, such as the decriminalization of abortion or modifying the equality law.

In these elections his speech competes with the formation of ultraderercha Vox and the neoliberal Citizens, who straightened his speech, leaving the position of completely orphan center in these elections.

The polls predict that the conservatives will be second, a long way from the first position, which occupy the Socialists of the PSOE.

However, their results will not be sufficient to form a government and they will need to make pacts with two of their declared allies and their main rivals for the conservative voting niche: Citizens and Vox.

On the last day of the campaign, the president of the Popular Party has already opened the door to let the right-wing Vox formation enter the Spanish government if the right-wing bloc obtains the necessary votes to invest a candidate.

"Why are we going to walk on the hose between us if what we have to do is add," said Pablo Casado on Friday.

Albert Rivera, the liberal who tries to take over the Spanish right

Albert Rivera (Barcelona, ​​1979) is the president of the liberal Citizens formation, which in the elections of this Sunday in Spain aspires to have a relevant position from which to reach pacts to form a "constitutionalist" government that will intervene again Catalan institutions .

Citizens is a formation that was born in 2006 in Catalonia following a civic platform of intellectuals whose objective was "to have a tool with which to face the follies of nationalism".

In its first years, Ciudadanos was a strictly Catalan party and its leader, Albert Rivera, was formed as a politician in the Parliament of Catalonia, where he held a seat from 2006 to 2015, when he decided to make the leap to national politics.

The emergence of Citizens in Spanish politics took place gradually, in parallel to the growth of the independence movement in Catalonia, establishing itself as its counterpart in a territory where the Spanish right has hardly any support.

In fact, the opposition to the independence movement is the main hallmark of the party, which throughout its history made different ideological transitions from the social democratic ideology to its current liberal positions, which are increasingly accompanied by conservative overtones.

The definitive emergence of this party in the Spanish political map took place in 2015, when the liberal formation entered for the first time in the Congress of Deputies at a time when the disaffection of the population towards the traditional parties due to the economic crisis paved the path to new actors as Citizens or We can.

After those elections Citizens was the only party that supported the investiture of socialist Pedro Sanchez, who did not get the necessary votes to govern, which led to another call for elections, this time in 2016.

The 2016 elections left an equally fragmented scenario in which Ciudadanos supported the inauguration of the conservative Mariano Rajoy - who finally did arrive at La Moncloa - despite the fact that Rivera had promised in the campaign not to yield his votes to a Popular Party government.

The ability of Citizens to agree on both sides of the political board is defended by its members as a virtue, while the rest of the actors describe it as a "weather match".

In the elections of this Sunday Citizens arrives with the promise of not supporting under any circumstances the investiture of Pedro Sanchez, whom they consider a traitor for having accepted the support of the Catalan separatists in the motion of censorship of 2018.

Within the fragmented political landscape of Spain, Rivera's refusal of any pact with Sánchez places Ciudadanos in the block on the right with the Conservatives of the Partido Popular and the right-wing extremists of Vox in the face of post-electoral negotiations.

In addition, the position of Citizens facing that possible pact is marked by the events following the December elections in Andalusia, where the Liberals entered an autonomous government led by the PP thanks to the votes of Vox.

According to surveys published in the last week, Ciudadanos faces these elections with the possibility of getting around 15 percent of the votes, which would give access to around 45 seats of the 350 at stake.

The Citizens program presents a liberal economic plan, which advocates reducing taxes and making the labor market more flexible.

In territorial matters, Citizens presents a program that coincides with Vox and the Popular Party when proposing a new application of article 155 of the Constitution to intervene the institutions of Catalonia, governed by the independence movement.

Article 155 allows the Government of Spain to intervene the institutions of an autonomous community in case it "does not fulfill the obligations that the Constitution" or "act in a way that seriously threatens the general interest of Spain"

The 155 was applied by Mariano Rajoy in the fall of 2017 after the Catalan independence movement held a unilateral referendum and declared the independence of the territory.

It is not so clear that in the current scenario the application of the 155 was adjusted to right, because right now in Catalonia there is a pro-independence government that claims to seek a break with Spain but does not take any action aimed in that direction.

In any case, Rivera insisted during the campaign that the situation in Catalonia generates a "national emergency" that would justify the adoption of these and other measures.

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