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One hundred days since election, Spain still no closer to forming government

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is working on a new strategy to win the support of the anti-austerity party Unidas Podemos, which refused to back his investiture bid in July

Pedro Sánchez (c) during a meeting with social associations.
Pedro Sánchez (c) during a meeting with social associations.

One hundred days have passed since the April 28 general election, and there is still no sign that acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is any closer to reaching a governing deal that would allow him to be voted back into office.

The only problem Spain has in forming government is that no one trusts Pedro Sánchez

PP secretary general Teodoro García Ege

The leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE) won the highest number of seats at the April polls, but fell short of an absolute majority, meaning he needs the support of other parties if he is to continue as Spain’s prime minister.

Sánchez failed to secure either an absolute majority or a simple majority in his first investiture bid in July, after negotiations broke down with anti-austerity group Unidas Podemos (a coalition of Podemos and the United Left), which chose to abstain from the two rounds of voting.

The Socialists, who have 123 seats in Congress, depend on the support of Unidas Podemos’ 40 deputies, but the two parties have been unable to reach a governing deal, despite months of negotiations.

Sánchez offered the party a deputy prime minister spot, as well as Health, Housing and Equality ministries, but Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias demanded a deputy prime minister role for social rights and equality, as well as the Health, Labor and Science and Universities ministries – a demand Sánchez refused.

If Sánchez fails to be invested, Spain will head toward fresh elections in November

Relations between the PSOE and Unidas Podemos have remained strained since the failed investiture bid, and sources from La Moncloa, the seat of the central government, say there is currently no contact between the two parties.

Sánchez is now trying a new strategy to win the support of the anti-austerity party: instead of a coalition government, the acting prime minister wants to reach an agreement on government programs. As part of this strategy, Sánchez has been meeting with women’s associations, environmental groups, organizations that fight against depopulation and education activists. But Unidas Podemos remains suspicious. Unidas Podemos lawmaker Pablo Echenique wrote in a message on Twitter: “Either I keep 100% of power, with 20% of the votes and 35% of the seats, or I take Spain to new elections. This continues to be the last ultimatum-threat of Pedro Sánchez. All the rest is just decoration.”

If Sánchez fails to be invested at a second potential vote in September, Spain will head toward fresh elections in November. It would be the fourth time that Spaniards have been called to the polls to choose a government in four years, and the fifth election held this year alone.

Abstentions

The PSOE has called on the right-wing Popular Party (PP) and center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) to abstain from the investiture vote to break the political deadlock, but both parties have refused. What’s more, on Monday, PP secretary general, Teodoro García Ege, said PSOE should abstain to allow the PP and Ciudadanos to lead a coalition government headed by PP leader Pablo Casado. “As the only problem Spain has in forming a government is that no one trusts Pedro Sánchez – not even Podemos, or Pablo Iglesias trust him, a space should be made for another candidate,” he said.

His comments came a day after the King of Spain, Felipe VI, stated: “It would be best to find a solution before going to elections.”

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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