Socialists refuse to bow to Podemos’ demands over negotiations

Party leader Pablo Iglesias wants Pedro Sánchez to exclude Ciudadanos from talks

Pedro Sánchez meets with Pablo Iglesias on Friday.
Pedro Sánchez meets with Pablo Iglesias on Friday.Bernardo Pérez

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez on Friday rejected a demand by Pablo Iglesias of Podemos to choose between his party and Ciudadanos during negotiations about a possible formation of a new Spanish government.

Sánchez met for an hour with Iglesias in Congress for the first time since the Socialist leader was invited by King Felipe VI to try to piece together a coalition government.

“My answer is that the door will always be open for Pablo Iglesias and other groupings”

After their meeting, Iglesias publicly asked Sánchez to cancel his plans to form a coalition with Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos and enter an exclusive agreement with Podemos. Sánchez and Rivera had already agreed on Thursday to start negotiating a pact.

Sánchez said that he will continue holding talks with all the political parties, including Ciudadanos.

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“There are issues that separate us, but there is one thing that unites us, and that is we need to put an end to the government of Mariano Rajoy and the PP,” the Socialist secretary general said.

Nevertheless, he said that he is willing to talk with Rajoy, even telling him to “pick up the phone” to call him. But he will not make a deal with the PP. “I am waiting for his call,” he said.

For his part, Iglesias said that Podemos would not continue negotiating with the Socialists while it was holding talks with Rivera.

”If the PSOE wants to go in that direction, we are willing to start working now. If they continue to think that they can shift to the right at the other group’s command, we do not agree with this,” Iglesias said.

“I told Pedro that it was better if he made up his mind quick: I want you to pick us,” said the Podemos leader, who has been proposing a leftist coalition with the Socialists, United Left (IU) and other minor parties.

“I told Pedro that it was better if he made up his mind quick: I want you to pick us”

Meanwhile, the PP has upped the pressure on congressional speaker Paxti López, also a Socialist, to set a date for the first investiture session. PP leaders have proposed February 22.

Soon after the king on Tuesday asked Sánchez to form a government, López said that Sánchez had told him he needed up to a month to hold negotiations with the other parties.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had previously told the monarch on two occasions that his Popular Party (PP) – which won most seats at December 20 elections but fell short of an absolute majority in Congress – didn’t have enough support in Congress for him to be able to get voted back in as leader.

The PP wants their proposed date to be discussed on Tuesday when the party spokespersons in Congress meet with the congressional leadership.

Podemos has also said that it will support moving up the investiture date.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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