Socialists, Unidas Podemos agree to negotiate “government of cooperation”

The decision comes a day after the PSOE organizational secretary threatened new elections if the anti-austerity party does not drop its demands to be part of a coalition

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in a meeting with Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.
Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in a meeting with Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.ULY MARTIN

Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE) and the left-wing anti-austerity group Unidas Podemos have taken their first step toward reaching a governing deal, more than a month after the inconclusive results of the Spanish general election on April 28.

The PSOE won the highest number of seats at the April polls but fell short of a parliamentary majority, meaning Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez will need the support of other parties if he is to be reappointed as prime minister.

PSOE parliamentary spokesperson Adriana Lastra

Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias had offered to support the investiture in exchange for being part of a coalition government, but the PSOE maintained that it wanted to lead a minority government, pointing out that even with Unidas Podemos’s 40 seats it would not have the 176 votes needed for an absolute majority.

After meeting on Tuesday for an hour and 20 minutes, the parties announced they have agreed to negotiate a “government of cooperation.”

Complex negotiations will now begin on the exact nature of this cooperation. For the PSOE, this means negotiating with Iglesias’s party to decide who will take ministerial positions. “We will look for formulas for a plural government with people who are leaders in their fields. [Pablo] Iglesias has told the prime minister that he will consider it. It is an inclusive government, not a closed one like a coalition government,” said PSOE parliamentary spokesperson Adriana Lastra after the meeting.

For Unidas Podemos, it means that they will have a say in who is named minister. At the press conference, Lastra did not rule out the possibility that Iglesias will be part of the executive. “In the last 12 months, we have shown that the left knows how to understand one another,” she said.

Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias

Iglesias for his part may have given up on the name of a coalition government, but he has not given up on the idea. According to the anti-austerity leader, the priority is creating “a plural government to face the challenges of the future.”

“We have spoken about labor, justice and tax reform,” he said. “The PSOE program is a good starting point. Good proposals cannot remain campaign promises, they must be translated into concrete policies.”

Lastras admitted that the concept of a government of “cooperation” was “novel,” and was unable to think of another government in Europe that has followed this model.

Sánchez and Iglesias will now begin more discreet negotiations on the makeup of the new government.

The news comes just a day after PSOE organizational secretary José Luis Ábalos threatened to call new elections in an effort to pressure Unidas Podemos into dropping its demands for a coalition government.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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