SOCIALIST leader Pedro Sánchez disagrees with Podemos' head Pablo Iglesias that 'now is the time' to start negotiations for a left-wing 'government of change', saying he was not prepared to work on forming a coalition until the PP's Mariano Rajoy had at least lost the first round of internal elections. ,
“We need to be very careful about our timing – Rajoy should be given the first chance to form a government,” insisted Sánchez, who stated categorically that he would not take part in any talks that involved 'blackmail'.
In an otherwise civil 20-minute conversation between Sánchez and Iglesias, after the latter called the former to voice his willingness to form a coalition, the PSOE leader reproached Podemos' founder for saying he wanted to be deputy president as part of the deal and his members to fill key minister roles.
“Our talks should be about policies, not positions,” Sánchez said staunchly.
He admitted later that although the PSOE and Podemos may hold similar views on the 'diagnosis' of Spain's current situation, this was just the tip of the iceberg and, to work together, they also needed to agree on policy.
“Voters of the PSOE and Podemos would not understand it if Iglesias and I did not see eye to eye,” Sánchez commented.
Other socialist members consider Iglesias guilty of trying to 'get above his station', and were somewhat irked when Podemos' leader told Sánchez that his 'golden opportunity' to become president, 'a smile from destiny', was something the PSOE would have Iglesias to thank for.
Stumbling blocks have also arisen through the country's now fourth-largest political power after the PP, PSOE and Podemos – liberal or centre-right Ciudadanos, who gained 40 seats in the elections, say they will not vote for either Rajoy or Sánchez as president.
If one or both attempt to enter in talks with Ciudadanos, the least they will offer is to abstain from voting at all, says the Catalunya-based party which went national last year for the first time since its founding in 2006.
Ciudadanos is also adamant that it is not prepared to form a government with either the PP or the PSOE, having always maintained it did not want to 'join a coalition of losers', nor be part of any government they were not at the head of.
With the PP's initial 123 seats out of 350 now reduced to 119 after four members departed and became non-affiliated MPs, and the PSOE's 89 – down from 90 after one of them took the same route – neither of the historic 'big two' has anywhere near the 176-seat majority required to govern.
Sánchez has already refused to form a left-right mega-coalition between the PSOE and PP, and Rajoy is thought to have failed to even attempt to negotiate with any of the others.
In most cases, the remaining parties' values mean a coalition with the PP would be politically impossible.
Podemos has 69 seats which, combined with the PSOE's 89, gives a total of 158 – and even adding on the two earned by United Left (Izquierda Unida, or IU), reaching 160, means they will still be 16 short of an outright majority.
Ciudadanos, if it was prepared to join a coalition, could have been a deciding factor for either the PP or PSOE.
The in-house voting round – which Rajoy says he will not present himself for unless he gains enough support from other parties beforehand – is likely to happen at the earliest during the first week in February.
Photograph: King Felipe VI with PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez