• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Spain's Socialists announce end to political deadlock

Spain's Socialists announce end to political deadlock

AFP · 24 Feb 2016, 12:59

Published: 24 Feb 2016 08:59 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Feb 2016 12:59 GMT+01:00

Spain's Socialists, racing to try and form a minority coalition government following inconclusive elections, on Wednesday got their first pledge of support after signing a deal with centrist party Ciudadanos.

The deal is a boost for Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez as he seeks enough backing from lawmakers to become Spanish leader when they vote for or against his government programme next week.

But it still leaves him short of the votes needed, which means Spain still has no government in sight nearly ten weeks after elections.   

"There is a first deal with Ciudadanos, there are way more groupings that can make (Sanchez's) investiture possible," the Socialists' Senate spokesman Oscar Lopez told Spanish radio.

Sanchez and Ciudadanos chief Albert Rivera shook hands to applause after signing the agreement, which centres on what a new government led by the Socialists would look like.

It includes major territorial and judicial reforms, including changing the constitution to, for instance, modify rules governing lawmakers' immunity from prosecution - demanded by Rivera in return for backing Sanchez.

Uphill struggle

Spain has been mired in political deadlock since December elections resulted in a hung parliament split among four main parties - none of which have enough seats to govern alone.

The ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) won the most seats but without an absolute majority, and leader Mariano Rajoy gave up attempts to form a government after he failed to get support from other parties fed up with corruption scandals plaguing his grouping and years of austerity.

As a result, King Felipe VI nominated runner-up Sanchez, whose Socialists won 89 seats out of 350, as prime ministerial candidate and he has been negotiating hard since then.

But even with Ciudadanos, which won 40 seats, Sanchez would still not have enough votes and would therefore need the backing of other parties - a difficult task as all have conflicting agendas.

Anti-austerity party Podemos, an ally of Greece's Syriza, won 65 seats and would therefore be a valuable partner.   

But the long-established Socialists are wary of joining forces with an upstart party born just two years ago out of anger over austerity, and which ultimately seeks to supplant it.

The two parties are also deeply divided over Catalonia's independence movement.

Although it does not want to see Spain split, Podemos backs the idea of a Scotland-style referendum in the northeastern region. Sanchez, however, is resolutely against this.

And crucially, it refuses to enter a government that would also include Ciudadanos, pushing instead for a left-wing coalition with Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias as deputy prime minister.

The PP meanwhile has said it will vote against any government it does not lead.

Business concerns 

As such, Sanchez still faces an uphill struggle to succeed next week.

Iglesias highlighted this earlier when he said the deal between the Socialists and Ciudadanos meant "Spain was very far from having a new government and new prime minister."

Story continues below…

Sanchez needs an absolute majority - or 176 ballots in favour of his government proposal - in the first vote of confidence due to take place on March 2nd.

That is almost certain to fail, which means that another vote will be held 48 hours later, where Sanchez will only require a simple majority.    

The Socialists are hoping Podemos and other smaller groupings will abstain in that vote rather than cast their ballot against them, which would push Sanchez through.

But if that is also unsuccessful, a two-month countdown begins from the date of the first vote, after which new elections will be called if no solution is found.

But as Spain emerges from a severe economic crisis, many say fresh elections would be a disaster for a country that needs stability, particularly as polls suggest the outcome of new polls would by and large be the same as December.

On Tuesday, Spanish business leaders warned that going to the polls again would be an "incomprehensible failure."   

"We support any formation of a stable political compromise," major business associations said in a joint statement.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
First baby in Europe with Zika defects born in Spain
The Zika virus is spread by mosquitos. Photo: Yuri Cortez/AFP

A baby has been born in Spain with Zika-caused microcephaly, the first to be born in Europe with the condition.

Suspend EU funds for Spain says European Commission
European Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen. Photo: AFP

The EU should suspend structural funds to Spain and Portugal after they failed to rein in their debt, according to a letter from the European Commission seen by AFP.

Spain arrests Polish millionaire in arms bust
The gang sold more than 200,000 AK-47s, as well as missile launchers and tanks. Photo: AFP

Spanish police said Saturday they had arrested a Polish millionaire suspected of masterminding a ring that smuggled assault rifles and heavy weapons into South Sudan.

Video
Stag party bungee jump prank goes viral in Spain
Screen grab: Jaime Cuesta/YouTube

A group of friends made this stag think he was going bungee-jumping on his last night of freedom... but they had an entirely different plan in mind.

Spain pays €300m each year in pensions… to dead people
Photo: Paco Cameo / Flickr

Almost 30,000 Spaniards continue to receive a state pension despite the fact that they have died.

Catalan separatists overtake 'remainers' for the first time
People wave pro-independence Catalan flags. Photo: AFP

For the first time ever, the number of people in favour of an independent Catalonia has surpassed the number of those against.

Childless households are the new normal in Spain
More and more Spanish households are comprised of flatmates rather than families. Screen grab: YouTube

Spain is in the middle of a never-before-seen demographic shift.

Video
Zoo animals enjoy ice lollies to cool off in Spain's heatwave
A chimp slurps on frozen fruit as temperatures soar across Spain. Photo: Bioparc Valencia

Vegetable ice cream, fruit lollies and for the carnivores among them, generous helpings of frozen meat, this is how zoo animals across Spain have kept their cool this week.

Girl rescued after night spent adrift on surfboard off Spain
File photo of a girl with a surfboard. Photo: hjl/Flickr

The young woman could not beat the strong currents to make it back to shore.

Spain's new coach Lopetegui promises 'evolution'
Lopetegui during a press conference on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Newly named Spain coach Julen Lopetegui has already led Spain's youth teams to international success.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Barcelona bans Segways from tourist clogged waterfront
National
Police issue guidelines as Pokémon craze sweeps Spain
National
Another dodgy art restoration raises alarm in Spain
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Watch: Man in wheelchair zooms past Barcelona traffic
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Woof! How to find dog-friendly beaches in Spain
Travel
Tourist sparks bomb scare by locking suitcase to park bench
Technology
Five brilliant apps to help improve your Spanish
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Top ten tricks to survive the Spanish summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
Off the beaten track: 14 best kept travel secrets in Spain
International
Keep calm and wait and see: Advice for expats post-Brexit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Top 10 Spanish treats to keep you cool in summer
National
'I've had best time ever' insists American gored in bull run
Health
How to avoid heatstroke when Spain starts to sizzle
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
International
Champion of expat property rights in Spain awarded gong
National
Scorchio! Heat warnings issued across Spain
National
Brits demand dual citizenship for expats in Spain post Brexit
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Sport
Spanish matador gored to death in the ring
Lifestyle
Eleven types of men you might typically date in Spain
National
Spanish police rescue British teen trapped by dad in house for two years
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Features
Seven burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
Six important things we learnt from Spain's repeat elections
Politics
Rajoy claims right to form government after poll win
3,293
jobs available