Spain’s left forms front against rul­ing PP

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY MICHAELA CANCELA-KI­EF­FER

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.

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