Socialist leader readying deal in case king asks him to form government

Pedro Sánchez draws up draft document that he will put to an internal party referendum

Pedro Sánchez during the Socialist federal committee on Saturday.
Pedro Sánchez during the Socialist federal committee on Saturday.Uly Martin

With Spanish politics still at stalemate following inconclusive elections on December 20, Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez has put together a 50-page draft document that will be the basis for a potential cross-party alliance that could propel him into the prime minister’s office.

While his party came in second with 90 seats, the winning Popular Party (PP) lost its absolute majority and is struggling to find enough support to get the incumbent, Mariano Rajoy, reinstated.

Sources said they were working with a three-to-four-week time frame to test whether such a pact is possible

Rajoy has already once declined King Felipe VI’s offer to be the first to try to form a government by standing at the upcoming investiture session.

His Socialist rival is working on the theory that Rajoy will decline a second offer, which will leave the ball in his court.

Until the monarch asks Sánchez to be the next to try, the Socialists are not officially negotiating their alternative governing alliance.

But behind the scenes, there has been a flurry of activity in preparing this moment.

Socialists to submit any deal to a vote

Anabel Díez

If forging such a broad alliance is already a complicated task, Pedro Sánchez has made things even harder for himself by announcing that he will submit the terms of any deal to Socialist party members for their approval.

The surprise announcement was made last Saturday at the meeting of the federal committee.

The move is based on what fellow Socialists have done in Germany and France.

In Germany, the SPD distributed the text of their agreement for a grand coalition with Angela Merkel among their 400,000 members. In France, in 2004, then-Socialist leader François Hollande put the “yes” to the new EU Constitutional Treaty to a successful referendum.

Socialist party members will be given a chance to express their opinion about a hypothetical alliance that high-ranking members of the federal committee are frowning upon, especially when it comes to working with Podemos and regional parties that support independence in places such as Catalonia and the Basque Country.

Sánchez has asked a team of aides to pore over the campaign promises of all the parties that could potentially be a part of his progressive, pro-reform coalition. The point is to find as much common ground as possible in order to forge the alliance.

So far, a 50-page draft has already been put together detailing how the Socialists could reach out across the political spectrum to newcomers Podemos and Ciudadanos, to the United Left and also to regional parties such as the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the Canaries Coalition.

This draft is divided into four major working areas: the economy, social policies, democratic regeneration and relations with the EU.

The economic section examines action to consolidate Spain’s newfound growth while dismantling the PP government’s initiatives that led to inequality and weaker workers’ rights. Social policy focuses on reinvesting in public healthcare, education and care for the disabled following four years of cuts.

The democratic renewal section considers the possibility of reforming the 1978 Constitution, a request put forward by several parties. The fourth area seeks to reaffirm Spain’s commitment to EU construction and increase the nation’s role in decision-making.

Sources said they were working with a three-to-four-week time frame to test whether or not such a pact is possible.

The date of the investiture debate will be decided by the speaker in Congress, the Socialist Patxi López, who has expressed a willingness to be flexible with the timings.

If no deal is cut, and if nobody manages to form a government, Spain would be forced to hold new elections later this year.

English version by Susana Urra.

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