Spain’s center-right mulls deal with Vox to gain control of Andalusia

Socialist Party suffers an unexpected setback as it stands to get ousted after 36 years in power

Ciudadanos general secretary José Manuel Villegas.
Ciudadanos general secretary José Manuel Villegas.Europa Press

The chance of a deal between center-right groups Ciudadanos and the Popular Party (PP) to form a government in the Andalusia region, with support from the far-right party Vox, is looking ever more likely barely 24 hours after Sunday’s regional elections, which saw the Socialist Party (PSOE) win the most seats (33) but fall well short of a majority of 55.

Today I am unable to rule out any scenario

José Manuel Villegas, Ciudadanos

Such a pact is not the first choice for Ciudadanos chief Albert Rivera, who has proposed that the PP and the PSOE should support a government led by his own party’s candidate, Juan Marín. Ciudadanos came in third in the Sunday elections, adding 12 seats from the last regional vote for a total of 21, while the PP came in second with 26.

But if that deal does not come to fruition, Ciudadanos is not ruling out an agreement with Vox. The PP candidate, Juan Manuel Moreno, also said he was willing to work with the far-right group – the first of its kind to win seats in a Spanish parliament since the end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship. “The red lines [of any negotiation with Vox] are the Constitution,” Moreno said on Monday.

PP national president Pablo Casado (l) and his candidate in Andalusia, Juanma Moreno.
PP national president Pablo Casado (l) and his candidate in Andalusia, Juanma Moreno.ANGEL DIAZ (EFE)

The secretary general of Ciudadanos, José Manuel Villegas, said on Monday in Seville that a deal with Vox is a possibility. “Today I am unable to rule out any scenario,” he said, before stating that he is indeed ruling out a new Socialist administration. “There will be a new Andalusian government that will not include the PSOE, that will not include Susana Díaz,” he said, in reference to the incumbent regional premier.

Meanwhile, the national leadership of the PSOE has opened the door for Díaz to resign from her position within the party if she does not manage to hold on to the premiership of Andalusia. The Socialist candidate oversaw the worst result in the history of the party in the region, where it has been in power for the last 36 years. Andalusia was the only region in Spain that had not seen a political shift since the return of democracy.

“This forms part of our responsibilities,” said José Luis Ábalos, the PSOE’s organization secretary and national public works minister, asked on Monday whether Díaz should resign from her position as general secretary of the Andalusian federation of the PSOE. “As leaders, we always know what we have to do. Our role is subordinated to the success of our political projects, and we are always at the disposal of the organization that has always generously trusted us. And with that same generosity we are always at the disposal of what the organization says.”

If I had lost, I would have left

Susana Díaz, Andalusian premier

For her part, Díaz stated on Monday that she is not currently planning on stepping down, citing the fact that she won the most votes, and garnered seven points more than the PP at the polls.

“If I had lost, I would have left,” she said on Monday, insisting that the margin her party secured over the opposition is an endorsement of her ability to lead negotiations ahead of an investiture vote. She ruled out supporting Ciudadanos’ Juan Marín as regional premier. “The logical thing would be for the third-placed [candidate] to support the first-placed,” she said, also completely ruling out a right-wing government supported by Vox. “If the only thing that the others care about is power at any cost, well, that’s their business,” she stated in a clear reference to Ciudadanos.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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