Spain: Socialists, Podemos aim for coalition government


Facing an altered landscape with the far right ascendent in Parliament, Spain’s two-left wing political parties, the Socialists and Unidas Podemos, signed a surprise agreement to form a progressive government on Tuesday – less than two days after the national election.

“The Spaniards have spoken, and it’s our responsibility to act to end the political blockade,” said Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s acting prime minister and head of the Socialist party.

This comes as something of a shock because Sanchez had rejected committing to a coalition government with the far-left political group in the run up to Sunday’s national elections.

The two parties also had a chance to form a government after April’s general election, but they failed to reach a deal. This failure triggered last weekend’s vote – the fourth in four years.

When Spain held elections in April, Podemos and the Socialists won more seats than they did on Sunday. Combined, the two parties lost 10 valuable seats in Parliament, while the far-right Vox won 52, more than doubling its seats from April.

“What was a historic opportunity in April became a historic emergency after Sunday,” said Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, referring to the meteoric rise of the far right in Sunday’s vote and years of political instability.

Now the two parties – which hold a combined total of 155 seats – still need the cooperation of other parties to form a government. In the Spanish Parliament, 176 seats are required for an absolute majority. However, with abstentions, the coalition could potentially form a government with a simple majority.

There are 16 parties currently represented in the parliament, many of them nationalists. Now the progressive coalition will have to appeal to several of them to drum up enough support. It will not be a simple task.

“Once more, the math doesn’t add up… It’s interesting how they think they’re going to be sworn in,” tweeted Marcos de Quinto, a politician from the Ciudadanos Party.

Alberto Nunez Feijoo, a representative of the Popular Party, accused Sanchez of trickery for so quickly forming a coalition with the far left.

“The Socialists are embracing Bolivarian communism and the allies of coup d’etat,” tweeted Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right party Vox, referring to the Catalan separatists.
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