The prime minister built his reputation on saving his country from economic disaster, but one region’s push for independence has forced him into the gamble of his life
As political credos go, the Spanish phrase “Esperar a que escampe” – “Wait until the weather clears up” – hardly ranks alongside “Yes we can”, “¡No pasarán!” – “They shall not pass” – or even “Strong and stable”. But that cautious, circumspect and rain-soaked philosophy has served its principal exponent remarkably well. At least until now. Yesterday Mariano Rajoy took the dramatic decision of moving to impose direct rule over Catalonia.
Rajoy, a 62-year-old political veteran from the equally rain-soaked northwestern region of Galicia, has been Spain’s prime minister for six long and difficult years. In that time, Spain has slowly retreated from the brink of economic catastrophe, witnessed the death of four decades of two-party hegemony, squirmed over a whack-a-mole succession of corruption scandals and spent 10 months deadlocked and government-less.