Socialist chief insists both emerging parties must join in government deal

Pedro Sánchez celebrates Podemos’s new attitude but says he will not break alliance with Ciudadanos

Pablo Iglesias (left) and Pedro Sánchez moments before their face-to-face meeting on Wednesday.
Pablo Iglesias (left) and Pedro Sánchez moments before their face-to-face meeting on Wednesday.CLAUDIO ÁLVAREZ

Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday insisted that any governing deal will have to include both of Spain’s emerging parties, Podemos and Ciudadanos.

The assertion came after a two-hour meeting with Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias – the first time in weeks that both men agreed to talk face-to-face about ways to break the political deadlock in Spain.

With all the required prudence, and despite all the difficulties, we are now closer to a government of change than to a repeat election

Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez

At the end of the highly anticipated encounter, Iglesias announced that he is ready to give up on his aspiration to become deputy prime minister in a coalition government, as long as Sánchez breaks his current association with Ciudadanos.

But in a media statement of his own, the Socialist leader rejected a plan that would bring together his own party, Podemos, United Left and the Valencian regionalists of Compromís, for a total of 161 congressional seats.

“He proposed his own name and he is withdrawing his own name,” said Sánchez about Iglesias’s offer to no longer bid for the deputy’s position.

The 199 goal

Instead, Sánchez insisted on an alliance of Socialists, Podemos and Ciudadanos that would represent 199 deputies.

“We have always worked towards the 199 goal,” said Sánchez. “The only option is for the three political groups to join forces.”

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He also said he hoped that Podemos was being “sincere” in its apparent desire to build bridges after holding back its support at Sánchez’s failed investiture vote in early March.

“We’ll see if Podemos is serious about this, because the PSOE and Ciudadanos are serious,” he added. “With all the required prudence, and despite all the difficulties, we are now closer to a government of change than to a repeat election.”

Sánchez insisted that he will not be breaking off his alliance with Ciudadanos leader Albert Rivera.

“I am a man of my word,” he said. “Any agreement that gets built over the next weeks has to respect the agreement built with Ciudadanos.”

If no governing deal is struck before May 2, parliament will be dissolved and fresh elections called for June 26.

English version by Susana Urra.

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