Posted on: August 2, 2023, 10:28h.
Last updated on: August 2, 2023, 10:28h.
Snap elections in Spain recently following the inability of any party to garner enough support haven’t improved the situation. As parliamentarians prepare to make the decision, two parties that have already joined forces to take on the incumbent are using sports betting as a political weapon.
The political pairing formed by the Popular Party (PP) and Vox has already threatened the reigning Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE, for its Spanish acronym) at various political levels. The two consolidated their efforts after realizing that neither had a chance of knocking out the incumbent on its own.
After Spain’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, called for a new election, the PP/VOX unity almost took over. However, neither it nor the PSOE secured enough votes. Now, both sides are trying once again to drum up support wherever they can.
Gambling as a Political Tool
PP/Vox has approved the installation of 36 new sports betting venues in the autonomous community of Castilla y León, primarily in that community’s provinces of Salamanca and Valladolid. The Castilla y León government, headed by the PP’s Alfonso Fernández Mañueco and Vox PP Juan García Gallardo, has granted licenses to Sportium for the launch of new properties through 2026.
This decision, on the surface, appears to be a snub of the executive branch of Spain’s government, which, this past March, sent new gambling reforms to the Spanish Parliament. While autonomous communities had already taken some measures, the legislation created a national minimum distance allowed between betting shops and schools, as well as between gambling venues.
There’s no indication that the PP/Vox coalition approved the new betting shops as an intentional tool to garner support. However, it shows that the two parties are, directly or indirectly, taking steps that go against the PSOE and its policies on various topics.
The increase in the region occurs at a time when the problem of problem gambling is at the center of social discussion. As Spain and the PSOE have heavily emphasized an anti-gambling approach, this new decision by PP/Vox takes things in the opposite direction.
Compulsive gambling, according to some, mainly affects the most vulnerable classes. Spain’s gaming regulator and the Ministry of Finance, to which the regulator reports, have spent much of their time increasing gaming regulations, which the PP/Vox decision doesn’t seem to support. As a result, a debate now rages over the unification of the government and its actions related to gambling oversight.
Spain’s Future At Stake
There’s more at risk than just the debate over the merits/pitfalls of gambling and sports betting. Political in-fighting in Spain has reached new heights, and the PP/Vox coalition’s surprising and fast rise on the scene emphasizes the fractured political status of the country.
Both the PSOE and PP/Vox are working overtime to find more backing. On August 17, Congress meets to discuss what happens next. Spain’s Chamber of Deputies will then vote on who will take over as Prime Minister.
A candidate can only win if he or she receives approval from at least 176 of the 380 available seats. Right now, no party singularly controls more than 172.
Should no one receive the obligatory minimum, a simple vote will be held, but only if Deputies agree to do so. If not, members of parliament will then have 60 days to appoint a new Prime Minister. Failing any progress at that point, Spain’s Parliament will be eliminated, leading to new elections.
Should PP/Vox prevail, there’s a good chance that Spain will slip back into a dark time. Vox has said that it wants to essentially rewrite the constitution to prevent any talk of succession of autonomous communities. This is a direct attack on Catalonia, home to Barcelona, which has occasionally discussed separation behind closed doors.
Vox has also said it wants to disband the Mossos d’Esquadra, the community’s autonomous police force. It supersedes almost completely Spain’s Civil Guard and National Police forces.
Were the coalition to prevail and Vox to get its way, it could lead to issues like those seen previously in Spain’s Basque autonomous community. For decades, it sought independence from Spain, with the Basque Homeland and Liberty (ETA, for its Basque acronym) separatist group carrying out numerous terrorist attacks in support of its freedom.