Socialists-Ciudadanos agreement clashes with Podemos’s program

Anti-austerity party says it will not support PSOE if it strikes deal with center-right group

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias in Congress on Tuesday.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias in Congress on Tuesday.Fernando Alvarado (EFE)

Podemos, the left-leaning group that emerged as the third force in Spanish politics at the December 20 general election, says it will not support Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez in the vote to make him prime minister next week if he cuts a deal with the smaller center-right Ciudadanos formation.

Speaking after the Socialists on Tuesday announced that they were ready to sign an agreement with Ciudadanos after accepting its demands for fast-track constitutional reform, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias rejected a deal that he said would ultimately include the Popular Party (PP), which won the most seats in the December poll but fell short of a majority.

Podemos and the Socialists have so far been unable to reach an agreement in their own ongoing talks to form a coalition government with other leftist groups, principally over its demands for an independence referendum in Catalonia.

Assuming a deal between Sánchez and Rivera – whose parties came second and fourth respectively in the election – is approved today by their respective executive committees, it would likely fail to garner support in Congress on March 1, the date the session to vote in a new prime minister is due to start.

“If the PP doesn’t support the deal, then there is no government and no investiture”

Between them, the two parties have 130 seats out of the 350 in Congress, and would need the backing of Podemos’ 69 deputies, as well as those of the United Left and regional parties in Catalonia, the Basque Country and the Canary Islands, among others, to get Sánchez invested as prime minister.

Alternatively, the backing of the PP, which has 123 seats, in the form of an abstention would also allow the Socialist leader to be voted in. However, the conservative party has made it clear that it will not support Sánchez, who was tasked with forming a government after acting Prime Minister and PP leader Mariano Rajoy refused to bid for reinstatement because he lacked sufficient congressional support.

“If the PP doesn't support the deal, then there is no government and no investiture,” said Iglesias on Tuesday evening.

Ciudadanos’ plan to reform the Constitution includes reforms to the tax system, labor market and regional powers that Podemos opposes

According to its demands, the constitutional changes that Ciudadanos wants would have to be implemented within three months of a government being formed. They include measures to tackle corruption and political interference in the judiciary that Podemos supports, but also reforms to the tax system, the labor market, and the role of central government in regional affairs that it opposes.

Podemos says it is still talking to the Socialist Party about a broad coalition that would also include the United Left and the Valencian Compromís party.

If no agreement is reached in time for the investiture, fresh elections will be held on June 26.


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