An overwhelming majority of the grassroots membership of anti-austerity party Podemos says it does not want to join the pact agreed by the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the center-right reform group Ciudadanos.
In a weekend poll of some 150,000 members – around 40% of those who are eligible to vote – a total of 88.23% rejected joining Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera, the leaders of the Socialists and Ciudadanos respectively, while 91.7% supported the idea of creating a coalition government between the Socialists, the communist-led United Left, and Valencian party Compromís.
The outcome of the poll comes as no surprise, and reflects the position of the party led by Pablo Iglesias. Podemos’s new secretary general, Pablo Echenique, announced the results of the referendum on Monday, clearly using it to show that the leadership is in tune with the grassroots over the failed talks with the Socialists in the wake of the stalemate produced by the December 20 elections. Polls suggest voters see Podemos as intransigent and that the party could suffer if, as seems increasingly likely, new elections have to be held in late June.
This week will see King Felipe VI consult with the main parties in a final bid to exhaust all possibilities to reach a deal. At the same time, Podemos will continue to highlight the mandate handed to it by the grassroots to pursue the coalition rejected by the Socialists. But Echenique insists that Podemos will continue to talk to the Socialists.
Polls suggest voters see Podemos as intransigent and that the party could suffer if, as seems increasingly likely, new elections have to be held
“We are open to dialog and prepared to sit down and talk about a government of change. I am a little skeptical about the path taken by the PSOE so far, but I am still hopeful it will change course,” said Echenique on Monday.
Podemos and Ciudadanos have refused to talk one another, citing insurmountable differences in their programs, among them the right for Catalans to decide their future in a referendum, which Podemos backs. This has also proved a stumbling block in talks with the Socialists.
In March, Ciudadanos and the Socialists announced they had the basis for a pact, but that requires additional congressional support to achieve a sufficient majority to form a government.
Ciudadanos would like to add the ruling Popular Party to this alliance, but so far the conservatives have refused to negotiate. Meanwhile, the Socialists have rejected a coalition with the PP. Instead, Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez insists on bringing both emerging parties onto his team.
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English version by Nick Lyne.