AFFILIATED groups of left-wing independent party Podemos have announced their support for PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez, agreeing to vote him as president in the in-house elections and consider forming a coalition.
En Comú Podem – the Catalunya faction – Compromís, made up of former El BLOC members in Valencia and Podemos militants, plus En Marea and United Left (Izquierda Unida, or IU) say they would be prepared to support Sánchez (pictured) as leader of an 'alternative government' to the existing PP-led right-wing majority presided by Mariano Rajoy, since the public is 'calling for changes'.
En Marea leader Alexandra Fernández told King Felipe VI this during his round of meetings with party heads, and added that she was in favour of reforming the Spanish Constitution and keeping the monarchy – unlike some other left-wing politicians who would prefer Spain to be a republic.
IU's leader Alberto Garzón told the King he thought it was 'perfectly possible' for a left-wing coalition government to be formed, and that his party would 'support any candidate who puts a proper social programme on the table'.
This would include banning repossessions of homes, scrapping the so-called 'gagging law', the labour reform and the schools reform, among others.
Garzón offered to mediate between Podemos' national leader Pablo Iglesias and socialist leader Pedro Sánchez, since they have been unable to reach an agreement as yet due to their differing views on allowing Catalunya to hold an independence referendum.
Compromís, which has broken away from Podemos after the latter refused to cede an MP seat to give the Valencian party a presence in Parliament, has nevertheless said it would be prepared to 'at least open the door to' what its leader Joan Baldoví called 'a government of change', presided by Sánchez, as long as the PSOE agreed to reform Parliamentary regulations, improve financing for the densely-populated but sorely underfunded Valencia region, and scrap several laws brought in by the PP.
“If the PSOE commits to these issues, then with Compromís' votes the PP will not be governing the country for the next four years,” Baldoví stated.
He made it clear his party would not call for the 'right to decide' for Catalunya, nor a referendum.
En Comú Podem – the most staunch supporters of a binding referendum – insists Sánchez is 'not doing anything' about negotiating with the party and urges him to 'take the first steps' if he wants the PP to stay out of office.
Leader Marcelo Expósito said En Comú would support Sánchez as president, on the condition he recognised En Comú as 'a regional and catalán force'.
Expósito did not refer to a referendum as a red line, but made it clear this was his party's proposal for resolving the dissatisfaction of Catalunya's people.
“Our idea is a binding referendum, but we do not know exactly what the PSOE proposes or how they think it will work,” Expósito concluded.
Political secretary for the main Podemos party, Íñigo Errejón – recently named Parliamentary spokesman – said yesterday (Wednesday) that if Sánchez wanted to be invested as president, 'it is he who has to decide what strategy he has for Spain'.
“We've always said it and we'll say it again: we're willing to extend a hand, in the face of repossessions and poverty, to plans for modernising the economy, halting policies of inequality, and reversing funding cuts in social programmes,” Errejón stated.
Asked about the Catalunya independence referendum, assistant Parliamentary spokeswoman for Podemos Irene Montero said her party 'remained firm' in defending this proposal since, in her judgement, 'beyond mere negotiations, it's a necessity for the country' to resolve the in/out debate.
In the meantime, PP leaders at national government level have admitted they are questioning whether it is worth Mariano Rajoy even attending Parliament in February for the first round of in-house voting.
No other party – although centre-right independents Ciudadanos is on the fence – has agreed to either vote in favour of Rajoy's being invested or abstain to keep the numbers down.
Given that his only guaranteed support is from the PP – which has 119 seats out of the required 176 majority – Rajoy's colleagues are beginning to wonder whether there is any point in his standing for voting when it is a foregone conclusion he will probably lose.
If Rajoy does not get a majority of the votes, a second round will be held where the result will be decided by the candidate with the highest number of ballots, even if this is still a minority.
In the event the second round does not solve the deadlock and any attempts by Rajoy to form a coalition fail – which appears likely – it will be a race against time for opposition parties to form a majority together to take over.
Should they not achieve this, the country will be called back to the polls again – a situation all those concerned want to avoid at any cost.