MADRID (Reuters) – Attempts by Spain’s Socialists to form a government and avoid a snap national election hit another wall on Thursday as their leader’s proposal for a Portuguese-style minority government got short shrift from the far-left Podemos party.
Acting prime minister Pedro Sanchez failed twice last week in his bid to be confirmed as premier by a deeply fragmented parliament after negotiations to form a coalition government with Podemos collapsed.
The Socialists won a national election in April but fell well short of a majority, and Sanchez now has until mid-September to secure parliamentary support for his administration or face another election in November.
He has now ruled out a coalition with Podemos and, in a letter to party members on Wednesday, he said he would instead seek to govern in minority, starting talks from scratch and looking for support for “a progressive government” across the political spectrum.
A minority government similar to those formed by Social Democrat parties in Denmark and Portugal, backed in parliament by allies on the basis of a common programme, was one option, he told reporters on Thursday.
In neighbouring Portugal, the Socialists of Prime Minister Antonio Costa have been in office since 2015 after clinching an unprecedented deal for support in parliament with the far-left Communists and Left Bloc.
However, relations with the far left have soured as a new election nears, and last month the Socialists sided with the centre-right, voting down all proposals from their allies on labour reforms that would have benefited workers.
Podemos’ deputy leader Irene Montero suggested that was not a path Spain should go down.
“The ‘Portuguese-model government’, ideal to agree a labour reform with the right and against the interest of workers. Is that really the Socialist proposal for Spain?” she wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Earlier this week Podemos leaders reiterated calls to resume power sharing talks with Socialists in exchange for supporting Sanchez in any future confirmation vote.
Sanchez has, in theory, several options for winning parliamentary support. But with right-of-centre parties ruling out supporting him he had begun focusing on securing backing from Podemos and at least one Catalan pro-independence party, both of which abstained last week.
(Reporting by Sam Edwards and Jose Elias Rodriguez, editing by Andrei Khalip and John Stonestreet)