POLITICS

Minority parties claim they were “thrown out” of pact negotiations

CiU, PNV and UPyD hold off signing up to PP-Socialist deal on common front ahead of EU summit

While the government and Socialists have hammered out the terms of a cross-party pact, aimed at strengthening Spain's position at the upcoming European Union summit, three opposition forces said Thursday they felt they had been "thrown out" of the deal.

The Catalan nationalist CiU bloc, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), and the Union, Progress and Democracy Party (UPyD) announced on Thursday that they will, for now, hold off signing up to the deal, with the hope that negotiations with the Popular Party government and the main opposition, the Socialists, will continue.

The cross-party pact is designed to put Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in a better position to lobby other European leaders to embark on new strategies toward growth and job creation, instead of concentrating on austerity measures, when they meet on June 27 in Brussels.

The three parties' leaders were called in on Thursday to help draft the text, but canceled after reacting angrily to the news Wednesday that Rajoy and Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba had already come up with the terms of the pact.

Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, the number-two official in the CiU, said that he was not going to keep the appointment, as did PNV leader Aitor Esteban. UPyD president Rosa Díez called it "imperfect bipartisanism." The United Left (IU) coalition, which announced that it would not sign up, was more critical about the "terminal state of bipartisanism."

Both the PP and Socialists are confident that the CiU, PNV and UPyD will eventually sign up to the pact before the text is formally presented late on Friday. Congress is expected to vote on it on June 25.

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