Parties reach deal to vote in veteran Socialist as congressional speaker

The Popular Party, PSOE and Ciudadanos will give their support to Patxi López tomorrow

Former Basque premier Patxi López.
Former Basque premier Patxi López.javier hernández juantegui

The Socialist Party (PSOE) and Ciudadanos on Tuesday agreed to vote in veteran Socialist politician Patxi López as Spain’s new congressional speaker. The Popular Party will not present a candidate.

The deal struck on Tuesday will also see the PSOE occupy one of the deputy speaker roles. Ciudadanos and Podemos, meanwhile, will both have two seats on the Mesa del Congreso, the body that is in charge of the internal organization of Spain’s lower house. Of the eight total positions, the PP will have three: two deputy speaker roles and a secretary. The Socialists tried, but failed to secure one of the spots for the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV).

López, who was Basque premier between 2009 and 2012, had emerged as a potential consensus-building figure

López, who was Basque premier between 2009 and 2012, had emerged as a potential consensus-building figure, who looked set to be able to bring together – if only momentarily – the parliamentary forces that emerged from the inconclusive general election on December 20.

In the wake of the polls last month, no party has been able to reach agreement that will lead to the formation of a government, either alone or in coalition with others. If no agreement is reached among Spain’s political parties, new elections will have to be held.

With parliament scheduled to hold its constituent session on Wednesday, parties were scrambling to close deals the day before.

As part of these negotiations, PSOE general secretary Pedro Sánchez met with Ciudadanos chief Albert Rivera, as well as Pablo Iglesias from Podemos, according to PSOE sources. The Socialists were seeking a deal with Podemos, but that failed to materialize given that the emerging anti-austerity party wanted to form four different parliamentary groups, based on the fact that it ran under different names in Galicia, Catalonia and Valencia.

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If Podemos had been able to take this route it would have enjoyed more economic resources as well as having greater potential influence in debates between party spokespersons, greater powers to present initiatives and table questions for the government.

However, Podemos sources expressed their puzzlement at the lack of a deal, given that they had agreed to renounce the extra funding they would have received as well as benefits such as intervention in debates. Carolina Bescansa, a deputy and negotiator, was due to meet with PP and PSOE spokespersons on Tuesday. PSOE chief Pedro Sánchez said that he hoped Podemos would join the pact.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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