POST-ELECTION PACTS

Socialist chiefs ask leader Sánchez for “transparency” over governing deals

Regional officials want to have a say over any possible agreement with Podemos

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, whose party came in second in Spain’s December 20 general election, is closer than ever to the prime minister’s office as a result of his ongoing coalition talks with other parties that oppose four more years of conservative government. But not everyone in the Socialist Party (PSOE) is necessarily happy about the progress being made with anti-austerity party Podemos and regional groups that support separatism in places such as Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Pedro Sánchez in San Sebastián on Wednesday.
Pedro Sánchez in San Sebastián on Wednesday.J.Etxezarreta / EFE

Podemos itself included the right to a Catalan referendum on self-rule in its platform.

Some regional Socialist leaders are wary of such coalition partners, and are privately advising Sánchez not to compete for the post with the incumbent, Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP).

Internal opponents to such an alliance talk about the “instability” that it would mean for Spain at a difficult juncture.

Fears of a Socialist-led government that would be dependent on its associates’ demands are leading regional officials to demand “transparency” in the negotiations, so that party members and the public is made aware of the conditions for supporting the PSOE.

The Extremadura premier said his party must not negotiate with other parties that defend referendums on self-rule until they drop these aspirations

These officials also want any cross-party agreement to be first greenlighted by the PSOE’s Federal Committee before Sánchez formally bids for office at the upcoming investiture vote.

“You cannot negotiate recklessly, and everyone needs to have clear positions,” said the Socialist premier of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García-Page, on Wednesday.

García-Page said it should come as no surprise that it is the Socialists themselves who are “putting limits on the negotiations.”

“Not doing so would be dangerous,” he added, speaking at the Fitur tourism trade fair in Madrid.

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García-Page’s own successful bid for the regional premiership last year was made possible by support from Podemos after both parties entered into public negotiations.

The same holds true for Guillermo Fernández Vara in Extremadura, Ximo Puig in Valencia, Javier Lambán in Aragón, Javier Fernández in Asturias and Francina Armengol in the Balearics.

However, Podemos’s support only extended to the investiture and did not include the rest of the political term, forcing premiers to seek backing for their initiatives on a case-by-case basis. The system has been working unevenly since June 2015, with some regional houses finding themselves blocked on the budget.

Extremadura premier Guillermo Fernández Vara, who was also at Fitur, said his party must not negotiate with other parties that defend referendums on self-rule until they first drop these aspirations.

“Building bridges to reach out to separatism is fine, as long as you know that both parties are standing on different sides of the bridge,” he said.

English version by Susana Urra.

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