“The Socialists are ready to govern if Rajoy refuses,” Sánchez tells king

PSOE chief says he is prepared to start talks with all the parties to try to form a government

King Felipe (left) with Pedro Sánchez.
King Felipe (left) with Pedro Sánchez.Chema Moya (AP)

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez on Tuesday confirmed that he will try to form an alternative government if the winning candidate at the December 20 election, Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP), refuses to bid for reinstatement.

Following his second meeting with King Felipe VI to discuss Spain’s government options, Sánchez gave a press conference to explain his plans.

“I told the king that the Socialist Party (PSOE) is ready to form a government if Rajoy renounces his obligation,” said Sánchez. “The PSOE will take a step forward and will try to form a government to take the institutions out of the current deadlock.”

Pedro Sánchez: “Rajoy has given up on presenting a political project for Spaniards for the next four years”

Felipe VI will later meet with Rajoy, thus concluding the second and latest round of meetings with political leaders ahead of the investiture session to name a new prime minister.

Spain faces an unprecedented political conundrum that could lead to fresh elections this year if nobody is able to form a government in the coming weeks.

The incumbent, Rajoy, has already once refused to bid for the post because he knows he lacks the support to get himself reinstated in office despite his 123 seats in Congress.

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Sánchez, whose Socialists obtained 90 seats, has repeatedly refused Rajoy’s offer to create a grand coalition together.

Instead, he has been drumming up support for an alternative coalition that might include many or some of the other opposition parties, such as Podemos, Ciudadanos, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and Catalan pro-independence forces.

But Sánchez has always insisted that Rajoy had to try to form a government first.

If the latter refuses again on Tuesday, the Socialist leader will be ready to make his move.

“I think that Spaniards would not understand it if the forces of change did not unite to bring about this change,” said Sánchez at the press conference. “Rajoy has given up on presenting a political project for Spaniards for the next four years.”

A potential alliance between the Socialists and Podemos has met with opposition from high-ranking PSOE officials because of the anti-austerity party’s defense of a Catalan referendum on self-rule.

“I think that the question that [Podemos] leader Pablo Iglesias and also the other groups need to answer, is whether they support the kind of change that the PSOE can lead, or whether they want the PP to be in charge for four more years,” said Sánchez.

Sánchez: “The question Podemos needs to answer is whether it supports the kind of change the PSOE can lead, or if it wants four more years of the PP”

Recently, Socialist officials stated that the federal committee would have to approve any alliance that Sánchez arrives at.

“The federal committee is not preventing me from forming a government with any party,” Sánchez said on Tuesday. “It is my convictions that prevent me from doing so.”

Despite weeks of intense cross-party negotiations, no combination of groups seems strong enough to form even a minority government. Most recently, Podemos said it would not enter into any coalition with Ciudadanos after the latter had said the same about the anti-austerity group.

After Tuesday, the king will have to choose between telling a candidate to try to form a government despite everyone’s scant possibilities of success, or giving them more time to negotiate further in the hope of reaching greater support.

English version by Susana Urra.

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