Spain: Talks between Podemos and Socialists stalled hours before Sanchez investiture vote

Spain may be inching closer to new elections in November if left-wing party Podemos and the Socialists are not able to strike a deal before Pedro Sanchez’s investiture vote in parliament. Spanish MPs rejected appointing Pedro Sanchez as prime minister in a first poll on Tuesday and the acting prime minister depends heavily on Podemos’ support for securing the second crucial vote on Thursday. Sanchez required an absolute majority from parliament in the first vote, however, in the second one, he only requires a simple majority. Sanchez failed to strike a deal with Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on Monday because the latter was still not satisfied with the latest offer by the Socialists over the granting of posts within the new government’s cabinet. “Respect our voters and do not offer to us being a mere decoration in your government, because we will not accept it,” leader Iglesias said after talks between the parties ended without an agreement. The Podemos leader said, however, that his party would still like to be part of the government and would like to negotiate further. But as of Wednesday evening, talks between the two parties were stalled as they could not agree on which posts Podemos would get in the coalition government. Podemos MP Ione Belarra told Spanish radio that her party remained open to negotiations “till the last moment” but after the Socialists said they considered negotiations collapsed it would have to be them that resumed the talks. She said Podemos would not support Sanchez in the vote unless their conditions on various government posts were met. Sanchez has only been the country’s leader in an acting capacity since April after failing to win a majority in the Spanish general election. He first became prime minister of a minority government in June last year when parliament voted out a conservative government over a corruption scandal. On Monday, Sanchez laid out his government plans to parliament, which would focus on jobs, women’s rights, and the environment. “This is what I will be doing in the coming days: request your confidence, appeal to your responsibility and generosity … so that Spain has a government,” Sanchez told MPs. Employment, gender equality and fighting climate change would be his main priorities, he said. Sanchez had to receive the support of 176 members (an absolute majority) of parliament to be confirmed as prime minister on Tuesday. However, as he didn’t, MPs will vote again 48 hours after the initial vote and he’ll need to be confirmed with a simple majority. But if this fails again, King Felipe VI may have to stand in and propose new candidates. This, however, isn’t likely, it’s more accepted that the King will dissolve both chambers and will call new elections with the endorsement of the President of the Congress. In which case, Spaniards could be heading back to the polls on November 10th. To avoid this from happening, the socialist leader has been negotiating to form a coalition government with the left-wing Podemos party after its leader Pablo Iglesias accepted to not seek a role in cabinet. The first challenge is to sign a coalition agreement between Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos. Both parties still need to agree on a government pact and who will be in the cabinet. But even if they form a coalition, they will be short of a parliamentary majority, which means they will need the support of smaller parties, raising the question of how much the new government would be able to achieve. With the 123 MPs and the 42 from Podemos and its partnered parties (En Común and En Comú Podem), Sanchez would also require the support or abstention of sovereignist parties such as Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), who have 15 MPs and the Basque nationalist party Euskal Herria Bildu (4). This way, the left would be able to overcome the right-wing bloc formed by the People’s Party, Ciudadanos, and Vox, which counts with 147 votes. Not to add the two votes from the Canarian Coalition and another two from the Navarrese People’s Union. A coalition with Podemos would mean the left-wing bloc would get 165 votes, outperforming the 151 from the right-wing bloc.

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