Socialists considering breaking deals with Podemos in local councils

“Serious warning” comes after group fails to support Pedro Sánchez’s prime ministerial bid

PSOE spokesperson Antonio Hernando.
PSOE spokesperson Antonio Hernando.Jaime Villanueva (EL PAÍS)

The Socialist Party (PSOE) has said that it will be “very demanding” when it comes to the continuation of its relationships with emerging anti-austerity group Podemos in local councils, after the latter party refused on two occasions last week to support the Socialists’ bid to form a government in Spain’s Congress.

After having been invited to create a government by King Felipe VI earlier this year, PSOE chief Pedro Sánchez presented his candidacy as prime minister in the lower house last week, but only garnered the support of his party, with 90 seats, and center-right group Ciudadanos, with 40 seats. With practically all other parties voting against him, he was left well short of the majority he needed in the first round of voting, and lacked the support to achieve a simple majority in the second round.

We are going to be very demanding when it comes to the management of councils where Podemos is backed by the PSOE High-placed Socialist source

Two more months of negotiations have now begun between the parties in the bid to form a government, with new elections likely in June if no agreement is reached. Spain’s politicians find themselves in this situation after inconclusive general elections held on December 20, at which the incumbent Popular Party (PP) won most seats but fell well short of a majority needed to form a government.

The PSOE will now put pressure on Podemos in municipalities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, A Coruña, Santiago, Ferrol and Cádiz, among other places, where it reached deals with the left-wing group after the May 2015 local elections. The two parties united in many cases in order to keep the PP from power, but now these deals are under threat given Podemos’s failure to support the PSOE in Congress.

Antonio Hernando, the PSOE spokesperson, made clear the party’s stance last Thursday, in the midst of the investiture debate. “We gave them our support in exchange for nothing at all, without any red lines,” he told reporters.

“We are going to be very demanding when it comes to the management of councils where Podemos is backed by the PSOE,” said high-placed Socialist sources. When asked if this was a threat or a warning, they replied that it was a “warning” but a very serious one.

The positions taken by Podemos in recent months, during which time it has been highly critical of the PSOE, have opened up a gulf between the two parties. With the clock running before new elections have to be called, the PSOE will be using all of the elements at its disposal to apply pressure.

English version by Simon Hunter.


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