Felipe Gonzalez Asks Spanish Socialists to Reject Podemos Offer

  • PP, Socialists shouldn't block each other, the premier says
  • Socialists' regional leaders to meet party head Saturday

Spain’s former Socialist prime minister, Felipe Gonzalez, asked his party’s current leader Pedro Sanchez to reject Podemos’s offer of a governing alliance.

“The arrogant behavior of Podemos’s leaders, with humiliations that reveal their real intentions, shouldn’t be accepted,” said Gonzalez in an interview with El Pais published Thursday. Podemos “wants to tear down rather than reform” the system, he said.

Gonzalez, the most important grandee in Spanish socialism, is weighing in to the political debate as Sanchez prepares for a showdown with the party’s regional heavyweights on Saturday. Party officials including Andalusia’s president, Susana Diaz, are resisting Sanchez’s plan to broker a pact with Podemos to form a government because of the anti-austerity party’s support for an independence referendum in Catalonia.

Sanchez won 90 deputies in the Dec. 20 elections, compared with 123 for Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party. While both the main parties are short of the 176 seats needed to reach the majority in the lower house, the PP has more than one third of the 350-seat lower house, enough to block a constitutional reform, and an outright majority in the upper chamber.

Podemos’s leader, Pablo Iglesias, unexpectedly announced Friday a proposal to form a government with the Socialists in which he would be the deputy prime minister and his party colleagues would run the Economy, Interior, Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministries. Liberal party Ciudadanos, which has 40 seats, is seeking separate talks with the Socialists and the PP.

“Getting an agreement with Ciudadanos, from the mathematical point of view, requires common ground on the reforms that are needed,” said Gonzalez. In that situation, “the PP has to clarify what its priorities are in terms of policies,” as “there won’t be any important reform if the PP is committed to blocking them,” he added.

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