A new row has broken out in Congress – this time over seating arrangements for political parties in the lower chamber.
The 69 deputies from the emerging anti-austerity party Podemos have been moved from the front row seats they first took during the congressional constituent session on January 13 to the upper left part of the chamber.
They will occupy the seats from the fourth row to the top – the same section where the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) lawmakers traditionally sat.
Podemos deputies were able to take up the front row during the first session of the new political term because they arrived early at the chamber. But during the next session, all parties will have their assigned sections.
“This is an arbitrary action,” complained Podemos spokesman Íñigo Errejón on Tuesday. “They are sending the representatives of five million voters to the nosebleed section, separated from the rest.”
The inconclusive general election of December 20 yielded a hung parliament with 123 seats going to the incumbent Popular Party (PP), 90 to the PSOE and 69 to Podemos. United Left (IU) has two seats. Since then, parties have been scrambling to forge allegiances for a congressional majority of 176 seats.
The seating arrangements were chosen by the Mesa del Congreso, the body that is in charge of the internal organization of Spain’s lower house. The plan was based on a proposal from deputy congressional speaker Celia Villalobos, and was supported by her own Popular Party (PP), Ciudadanos and Socialist deputy Micaela Navarro.
“They send the representatives of five million voters to the nosebleed section”
Congressional peaker Patxi López of the Socialist Party did not vote, paving the way toward a future solution with wider consensus. Even though the seating arrangements can be changed, they will remain this way during the first sessions of Congress.
Errejón said that the decision was made by “the grand coalition,” which, he said, has already begun making “partisan” agreements.
The Socialists will keep their seats on the left side of the chamber, with the PP on the right. Ciudadanos deputies will be located in the center and nationalist parties just below Podemos.
English version by Martin Delfín.