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Home News Spain’s Podemos starts talks with Socialists, breaking deadlock

Spain’s Podemos starts talks with Socialists, breaking deadlock

Published on 22/02/2016

Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos kicked off negotiations over forming a government with the Socialists and other leftwing groupings Monday following inconclusive December elections, breaking a weeks-long potentially-damaging deadlock in talks.

Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias had initially refused to sit down with the Socialists if they continued talking with upstart centrist grouping Ciudadanos — an ultimatum rejected by PSOE head Pedro Sanchez, who has been nominated by the king as candidate to lead the country.

But last week, Iglesias agreed to four-way talks between the negotiating teams of Podemos, the Socialists, smaller far-left party Izquierda Unida and Compromis, a regional grouping from Valencia in eastern Spain.

“Our negotiating team will work for a government of change and progress,” Podemos said on its official Twitter account, while the Senate’s Socialist spokesman Oscar Lopez regretted the time it had taken for Iglesias to agree to enter talks.

Spain has been mired in political deadlock for more than nine weeks since the December elections resulted in a hung parliament split among four main parties — none of which have enough seats to govern alone.

Since his nomination as prime ministerial candidate, Sanchez has held talks with most parliamentary parties to try and garner enough support for his nomination which will be put to a crucial vote of confidence on March 2.

He needs a simple majority, but with the Socialists taking just 89 of the parliament’s 350 seats, Sanchez needs the backing of several parties — a difficult task as all have conflicting agendas.

Podemos, which won 65 seats, has said it is willing to enter a leftwing coalition government with the Socialists, with Iglesias as vice-president.

But the long-established Socialists are weary of joining forces with an upstart party born just two years ago out of anger over austerity, 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.