• Podemos, Socialists to continue talks for possible government
  • Socialist leader Sanchez says progress made to avoid new vote

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said he’d taken a step closer to breaking Spain’s political deadlock as he claimed anti-austerity party Podemos would explore negotiations that could lead to a coalition government.

Sanchez, who met Pablo Iglesias in the parliament in Madrid Wednesday, said the Podemos leader was open to talks with his Socialists and his liberal allies in the Ciudadanos party. For his part, Iglesias said he would back efforts to build a progressive government for Spain and offered to stand aside if his presence would be an obstacle to forming it.

“With all due prudence and caution, today we are closer to getting to a government,” said Sanchez, in a press conference in Madrid. “We are a step further away from holding new elections.”

More than 100 days after general elections in December failed to produce a winner with a working majority, Spanish political leaders continue to explore alliances that could take them into government. Lawmakers have until May 2 to find a solution before a fresh ballot is triggered, which would take place on June 26.

Flexible Approach

Iglesias’s decision to adopt a more flexible approach to talks with the Socialists is set against a backdrop of declining support for the force he founded in 2014. Podemos would win 16.8 percent of votes compared with its 20.7 percent in the December elections, according to a Metroscopia poll earlier this month. That contrasts with Ciudadanos, which would obtain 19.5 percent of the votes compared with 13.9 percent in December.

“I won’t be the obstacle,” said Iglesias, in a news conference. “ I won’t be the excuse to explain that a government wasn’t possible.” In January, Iglesias demanded to be deputy prime minister as the price of his support for a government led by Sanchez.

Sanchez said his Socialists, Podemos and Ciudadanos all shared the common goal of wanting to oust acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the People’s Party from government. Even so, any agreement between the three parties will be hard to reach.

Iglesias said he wouldn’t ask Sanchez to tear up the pact he has drawn up with Ciudadanos. Even so, he has been pushing for a coalition that would exclude Ciudadanos as the best way to unseat Rajoy and build a government.

Ciudadanos leaders downplayed the likelihood of being able to build a coalition that includes Podemos. A three-way meeting “would make sense if it were to discuss changes and improvements to the pact we reached,” said Ciudadanos undersecretary Jose Manuel Villegas said in a separate press conference.

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