In politics things can change at breakneck speed. It was just a month ago, Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez saw clear skies ahead following the resignation of Pablo Casado as president of the People's Party (PP) and the consequent internal explosion in the main Spanish right-wing party after the accusations made against rival Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and there was even speculation about an early election being called by the Socialists (PSOE), since all their electoral rivals had problems. Four weeks later, the PM is a politician with so many leaks to plug that only a survivor like him is capable of coping with them all. The revolt, in street protests, of numerous sectors, from transport drivers to small business owners, from the self-employed to ordinary members of the public, from the left and the Catalan independence movement to the right, have got him in a corner from which he can't find a way out.
There is a risk of a social eruption, since energy prices are unbearably high for everyone while the government is doing nothing. There is a risk of food product shortages, while the different ministers involved hide or simply patch up a problem that cannot be solved by injecting a few euro cents. There is a risk of chain-reaction closures of companies that cannot cope with costs which, in many cases, are forcing them to stop production or slow it down. This is not only an industrial problem, but the consequences even affect the construction sector, which is slowing down significantly. And the government is not responding. The problem is no longer political, but rather that it has reached the public with high inflation meaning that money buys less. This irritates people much more than a politician can imagine from his office. The depreciation of money in these circumstances happens very quickly.
If, to all this, the error made over the Western Sahara issue is added, with Spain giving in to Morocco in expectation of a pat on the back from the American friend, not to mention Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with no clear end anywhere near, Pedro Sánchez has more open fronts than ever and is a weak prime minister, with allies who are beginning to smell that perhaps his run of backing the winning horses is coming to an end. This Wednesday, his Spanish coalition partner, Unidas Podemos, made that clear and so did his most stable parliamentary ally, Catalan Republican Left (ERC). At any other time, Sánchez would simply have bailed water out of the boat; now he is silent and is promising to give responses after many days to the drivers, to those who demand reductions in energy prices and to those who ask for explanations for selling out the Polisario Front and riding roughshod over United Nations resolutions.
On February 23rd, Madeleine Albright, former US secretary of state in the Clinton administration and the first woman to hold the position, who died a few hours ago, published an article in The New York Times that has ended up being the last of many she wrote. She spoke about Putin's mistake with the invasion, the enormous damage it would end up doing to Russia and its economy, and recounted her personal experiences in the year 2000 sitting across from him at a small table in the Kremlin. "Putin is small and pale, so cold that he is almost reptilian", noted Albright afterwards. Her Times article leaves an impact, and has a very clear geopolitical vision. There is one phrase that, although it refers to Putin, could apply to many others: "He is sure that the Americans are the same as him, both in their cynicism and in their desire for power, and that in a world where everyone tells lies, he has no obligation to tell the truth." Living in a permanent lie leads one here, although those who practice this sort of politics will also eventually reach the day when their magic tricks don't work anymore.