Spain’s left forms front against ruling PP
Spain’s new anti-austerity party Podemos and the Socialists are set to strike a tactical alliance this week designed to oust the right from power in Madrid city hall and other regions ahead of a yearend general election.
Pablo Iglesias, the pony-tailed leader of Podemos, met with Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday night, their first faceto-face since the fast-growing Podemos party was founded in January 2014.
The talks followed regional and local elections on May 24 in which the ruling Popular Party (PP) suffered heavy losses due to voter anger over corruption, government spending cuts and high unemployment, while Podemos made strong gains, making them potential kingmakers in many regions.
Iglesias and Sanchez have until now shown little more than contempt for one another, with the Podemos leader routinely dismissing Sanchez as a member of Spain’s privileged political “caste,” while Sanchez has accused Iglesias of being a populist.
But their common goal is to reach an agreement to oust the PP from power in places where they can cobble together a left-wing majority — especially in Madrid, a conservative bastion and key symbol of power that has been run by the PP since 1991.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s party, which has governed at the national level since December 2011, won the most overall in last month’s elections but its support slumped by 27 percent of the vote, from 37 percent four years earlier, and it needs to strike alliances with opponents to govern.
The PP won 21 council seats in Madrid city hall, just one more than the Ahora Madrid coalition that was backed by Podemos.
If Ahora Madrid gets the support of the Socialists, who won nine council seats, their candidate for mayor — retired 71-year-old judge Manuela Carmena — would take Madrid city hall instead of the PP’s candidate, Esperanza Aguirre, a 63-year-old countess by marriage.
“The talks are continuing, the plenary assembly to constitute a new city council is expected on Saturday, June 13,” the number two on the Ahora Madrid list, Nacho Murgui, told AFP.