The majority Socialists in the Andalusian government have taken away their coalition partner’s power to award public housing.
What had been a threat on Thursday became a reality on Friday with the publication in the regional gazette of a decree that no longer lets the public works department decide who gets subsidized homes.
The move reflects a falling out between the majority Socialists, led by regional premier Susana Díaz, and the United Left (IU) coalition, which controls the public works department.
“I announced that I was going to do it and that is what I did,” said Díaz on Friday morning. “The principle of equality needs to be respected, and this is compatible with people who are on the waiting lists.”
The genesis of the conflict lies in the relocation of 22 squatter families
The decision caused surprise within the IU, whose members had been working to resolve the rift as late as Thursday night. Sources familiar with the situation said this marked the beginning of “a very tortuous and complicated road.”
“Until yesterday, we were trying to prevent the crisis. Now we must figure out how to manage it,” said the same sources.
The partners in government were scheduled to hold an emergency meeting later on Friday to discuss the situation and try to stop the confrontation from escalating further.
The genesis of the conflict lies in the relocation of 22 squatter families from a residential building known as Corrala La Utopía in Seville. For nearly two years, these residents had been living illegally in a bank-owned property. After being forced out by the police on Sunday, the families decided to camp out across from City Hall.
The Andalusian public works department, which is overseen by IU member Elena Cortés, expressed support for the families during the two-year period. And while the Socialists did not expressly applaud the squatting, they did not clearly oppose it either. On Wednesday afternoon, IU authorities began handing out keys to public housing units to the squatters outside City Hall.
The leftist IU has made the fight against home evictions the cornerstone of its political program, despite the fact that the public works department’s budget has been considerably reduced as a result of austerity cuts.
The Socialists and IU negotiated for more than 12 hours in a last-minute attempt to avert the breakdown of the leftist government coalition, but to no avail. IU coordinator Antonio Maíllo came out of the meeting with the following statement: “There is no agreement, the discrepancies remain.”
It would appear that the crisis is only just beginning.