Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos proposes forming govt with Socialists

Madrid: The leader of Spain’s anti-austerity party Podemos on Friday proposed forming a government with the Socialists, making a left-wing governing alliance more likely after last month’s inconclusive election.

Pablo Iglesias told reporters he had informed King Felipe VI of “our desire to form a government of change with the Socialists and the United Left”.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez should lead the government with the Podemos leader himself as deputy, said Iglesias.

Podemos, which came third in a general election on December 20, had until now not said if they would attempt to form a government with the Socialists.

Last month’s general election produced a hung parliament with no easy way of forming a ruling coalition majority.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) won the most seats (119) but fell well short of an absolute majority in the 350-seat parliament.

Rajoy has called for a “grand coalition” of the PP, the Socialists who came in second place winning 89 seats, and new centre-right party Ciudadanos which took 40 seats.

But he has so far won implicit support only from Ciudadanos.

The Socialists have rejected the PP’s advances and want a left-wing alliance of “progressive forces” that includes new anti-austerity party Podemos and its allies who have 65 seats along with the United Left with two seats.

The Socialists have yet to respond to the Podemos proposal.

The king will meet Iglesias and Rajoy on Friday, capping off a series of meetings with the leaders of political parties that won representation in parliament.

He will then nominate the leader of a party to form a new government, who must then win a vote of confidence in parliament to take office.

While the monarch has traditionally invited the party winner with the most seats to form a government, he can opt for an alliance of other parties if he feels they can deliver a more stable option.

If there is still a deadlock two months after this first confidence vote, the king must call fresh elections.

Iglesias said a left-wing government would adopt measures within the first 100 days to prevent evictions of homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages and do more to help the long-term unemployed whose benefits have run out.

He also said a left-wing government would honour Spain’s debt but “reduce the deficit at a slower rhythm”.

A majority of Spanish voters oppose holding another election to resolve the political stalemate and want parties to agree on a coalition government, a survey showed on Sunday