Spain‘s politics are arguably on the other side of things. At the regional level coalitions are common and of all 17 regions there are only 4 with single-party governments while at the national level more than 60% of the democratic period was under single-party minority governments that reached deals with smaller parties to approve legislation.
The new Spanish government is unique for two reasons. First, it’s the first coalition in a national government since before the Civil War of 1936-1939, as it’s composed by the center-left PSOE and the radical left Unidas Podemos. Second, it relies in a record number of parties, as the Spanish parliament experiences bigger fragmentation of national politics and broader representation of regional parties.
Around Europe neither of these coalition types is unprecedented and at the moment many different kinds of coalitions coexist. And, as fragmentation grows, so will the difficulties in building cohesive coalitions – Spain had two consecutive elections to form a government and Belgium still has no prospects of having one after more than 8 months.
While a Conservative-Greens alliance can look difficult to understand, there are other coalitions around our continent that might have bigger stakes to the weirdest alliance. In Latvia the government reaches from centrist liberals to the radical right, in an effort to keep the Russian-minority SDPS and the conservative agrarian ZZS from power. Nearby, in Estonia, one of the country’s two liberal parties leads a government with the presence of the radical right – yes, there is one liberal party that finds more in common with fascists than with anothe liberal party. In Italy the center-left PD, a party that deserves the label of “establishment”, shares government with the M5S, a party whose raison-d’être is fighting the establishment. But it might be Slovakia that leads the championship of weird coalitions, with the nominally center-left Smer leading a government with the radical right SNS and the conservative Hungarian-minority Most-Hid.