The so-called decisive debate between the candidates for Spanish prime minister at Grupo Planeta was a true fraud and an embarrassment. A fraud because you can't call the chaos that television set turned into anything else, with insults, disparagements, lies and books being swapped. And an embarrassment because none of the three candidates with theoretical hopes of reaching the Moncloa government palace (Pablo Iglesias is playing in another league, that of survival) adjusted their performance to win votes. Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Casado and Albert Rivera protagonised one of the most mediocre, base debates of Spain's democratic history.
Pedro Sánchez, the loser of Monday's first debate on TVE, arrived at the studio having apparently learnt his lesson well. Where 24 hours earlier he'd seemed at times a sphinx unassociated with the debate, this time he interrupted as often as he could, to the moderators' despair, as Casado and Rivera always do, and fought with the worst weapons of the right-wing candidates. The leader of Ciudadanos, Rivera, wasn't as effective as in the first debate and went over the top on many occasions. Like when he handed the prime minister a copy of his doctoral thesis, "a book you haven't read", and Sánchez hit back with one he'd brought, an extended interview with far-right Vox's Santiago Abascal by Fernando Sánchez Dragó. It was all too poor for two people who aspire to govern a country and only showed they know how to create cheap spectacle.
Sánchez showed he'd turned up at the second debate wounded when he was given the floor to talk about his proposals for employment and, like someone who knows they've got to fight back to survive, came out with a strong comment without any initiative to back it up: "At the start of this debate, I want to say I've not made a pact with independence supporters. It's false". It's clear it stings him and that the election is staked, in part, on the back of the votes he needed to reach the Moncloa and the accusations of agreements with independence supporters which here in Catalonia we know didn't exist, but which have enormous value in the rest of Spain. That led to Sánchez's panic and the others' insistence.
There was little else because the rest they said was vague or insulting. We'll have to see what the viewing figures were, but I doubt they reached TVE's. Luckily, Movistar Fútbol was offering the match Barça was playing at Alavés; with their hard-won victory, they're a little closer to the Liga.