Podemos is ramping up the pressure against Socialist (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez in an effort to get him to accept its offer of a three-way leftist coalition.
Just minutes before King Felipe VI officially asked Sánchez to try to form a government and bid for the prime minister’s office, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias warned that he would not be joining any alliance that includes Ciudadanos, Spain’s other emerging force.
“The conditions are there for a government of change, but the time has come to make a choice”
“Pedro Sánchez has tried to sell everyone the notion of a governing agreement with Podemos and Ciudadanos, and that’s impossible,” said Iglesias, adding that he was still ready to “reach out” to the Socialists.
The head of the anti-austerity party has already proposed his own ideal scenario, a three-way coalition between PSOE, Podemos and the small United Left-Popular Unity group. In this “government of change,” Sánchez would be prime minister and Iglesias himself would be his deputy.
But so far, Sánchez seems more inclined towards a broader alliance of forces that would better reflect Spain’s new congressional makeup. Fellow Socialist officials have also expressed serious misgivings about entering into an alliance with Podemos.
Iglesias said on Tuesday that the only other option he sees is a grand coalition-type deal between the Socialists, the Popular Party (PP) and Ciudadanos.
Stressing Podemos’s strategy of depicting Ciudadanos as a PP substitute, Iglesias said there was “no possibility that we will agree, either actively or passively, to a government with Ciudadanos.”
“An agreement between the PSOE, the PP and Ciudadanos would contribute to breaking up Spain,” he added, alluding to these parties’ economic programs, which he sees as similar.
Podemos and Ciudadanos are both new arrivals on the Spanish political scene, surging ahead in voter opinion polls with their similar messages of deep national change. But while the latter favors pro-market policies, the former began as a group sympathizing with Greece’s anti-austerity Syriza party that has since shifted to the center-left to attract more moderate voters.
Both challengers were neck and neck during the campaign race, taking turns ranking near the top in voting intention polls. Their strong performance on December 20 cracked Spain’s traditional two-party hegemony, forcing the PP and PSOE to seek deals in order to govern.
Time is running out
But now, Iglesias is trying to force the Socialist Sánchez into choosing between himself and Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera as a coalition partner.
“Spaniards are not in a position to wait any longer,” said Iglesias.
“The PP and PSOE have made us waste 40 days, but the impasse is broken,” tweeted Podemos number two official Iñigo Errejón after the king asked Sánchez to stand for the position. “The conditions are there for a government of change, but the time has come to make a choice.”
English version by Susana Urra.