NOW in his trickiest week since the King nominated him to form a government, PSOE (socialist) leader Pedro Sánchez is still optimistic about gaining enough support to be invested as president of Spain on March 1.
Following the deal he struck on Wednesday with centre-liberals Ciudadanos, led by Albert Rivera, Sánchez (pictured) could be facing trying to govern with just 139 seats out of 352 – way short of the 176 needed for a majority.
With left-wing independents Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, having broken off all talks with the PSOE in retaliation over its pact with Ciudadanos, the relatively-new party is likely to vote against Sánchez in the in-house presidential elections.
“I'm working on it. I'm going to make it difficult for anyone who doesn't want to vote for me,” Sánchez says, cryptically.
“I'll make it difficult for Iglesias to vote against me.”
Sánchez confirms he has not yet attempted to contact Iglesias in a bid to try to restart talks, but that he has 'extended his hand' to Podemos and hoped to 'at least get them to abstain' on March 1.
“Yesterday, an agreement was drawn up to bring about change, and another to unblock Spain's social stalemate,” Sánchez wrote on Twitter on Thursday this week.
“It's incomprehensible that Iglesias might vote for [Mariano] Rajoy [acting president and right-wing PP leader] against a socialist candidate.”
Podemos' and the PP's policies could not be farther apart, and Iglesias said his intention had always been to keep the PP out of the hotseat.
But he claims the PP's policies are heavily reflected in the deal with Ciudadanos, whom Podemos considers to be 'far-right'.
Iglesias says Sánchez has 'not been honest' with Podemos.
“He's shut the door to the possibility of forming a progressive government, and to forming a government with us,” storms the 37-year-old ex-university lecturer.
“Whilst the PSOE was saying one thing, it was doing another behind our backs with Ciudadanos – that would explain why it was so difficult to get anywhere in negotiations between Sánchez and us, Compromís [a Podemos-affiliated left-wing party based in the Valencia region] and United Left.”
Iglesias says Ciudadanos' policies 'only favour the IBEX 35' – Spain's largest stockmarket companies, and the equivalent of the top third of the UK's FTSE 100 – but that Podemos would 'continue to work for a government which defends social justice'.