Spain’s Socialists: Coalition with Anyone But Rajoy

The country’s left-wing leader calls for a broad progressive alliance to keep the right out of power.

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015 (PSOE)

Spain’s Socialists on Thursday ruled out forming a coalition with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative party lost its majority in an election last month.

Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez said he would rather form a “great coalition of progressive forces.”

Sánchez’ party doesn’t have a majority either. In fact, it lost twenty out of 110 seats in December but still came in second to Rajoy’s 123.

Portuguese example

Sánchez was speaking in Portugal, where an election last year similarly deprived the ruling right-wing party of its majority. There, the mainstream Socialists did team up with far-left parties, including the Communists, to form their own government.

In Spain, such an alliance between the Socialists and the anti-establishment Podemos would still fall short of a majority. The two would need the forty deputies of the liberal Ciudadanos to govern. But they are ideologically closer to Rajoy’s People’s Party.

The Ciudadanos also oppose the separatist movement in Catalonia, the wealthy northeastern region they are originally from, whereas Podemos is in favor of a binding independence referendum.

Damned if they do…

Rajoy has called for a three-party coalition with the Ciudadanos and the Socialists. This puts the latter in a tight spot, as the Atlantic Sentinel has reported.

If they join the People’s Party in a coalition, Podemos could claim to be the only credible left-wing alternative to pro-European and market-friendly policies.

But if the Socialists refuse and force Spaniards to go back to the polls, they might no longer be seen as a responsible party of government by centrist voters — and lose even more seats.