Spain's leftwing partners fail to repeat Barcelona deal

Barcelona en Comú and Catalan Socialists announce shape of new city government, while Sánchez and Iglesias cannot agree on power-sharing formula

Spain's president Pedro Sánchez (left) and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (by PSOE)
Spain's president Pedro Sánchez (left) and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (by PSOE) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 10, 2019 07:17 PM

In the wake of the May local elections, the shared leftwing stance of Barcelona en Comú and the Catalan Socialists brought the two parties together into a ruling coalition, but doing the same thing on a Spanish level is proving to be more difficult.

Despite lacking a majority, Ada Colau returns as mayor of Barcelona thanks to the support of the Socialists. In Spain, the best option for Spanish Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to hold on to power is to reach a deal with the national affiliate of Colau's party, Podemos.

Yet, that is proving easier said than done: Podemos and Sánchez's Socialists want to work together, but the former is asking to be part of a coalition government, while the latter is reluctant to go beyond offering some minor administrative posts in exchange for support.

On Wednesday, Barcelona en Comú and the Catalan Socialists announced what the new city government will look like, with three deputy mayorships for each party in charge of such key areas as the economy, security or mobility.

Voters prefer coalition, says poll

In Madrid, meanwhile, Sánchez and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias remain at loggerheads, although it seems most Spaniards would prefer the two parties to share power, according to a new post-election poll from the Center for Sociological Research (CIS).

The Socialists refuse to budge on their intention to govern Spain alone, even preferring to risk another election. In fact, 20% of those surveyed in the poll say they prefer this option, but that number is outweighed by those who believe another solution would be best.

Some 26.4% of those surveyed said they preferred a coalition between the Socialists and Podemos with the added support of either non-independence supporting nationalist parties (15.8%) or nationalist parties including those in favor of splitting from Spain (10.6%).

Socialists rule out pro-independence support

Sánchez came to power in June last year in part thanks to the votes of the Catalan pro-independence parties, but the Socialists ruled out again relying on their support, as they consider the price of negotiating a self-determination referendum too high a price.

A large minority (16%) said they prefer the Socialists to reach a deal with the unionist Ciudadanos party (Cs), but they campaigned for the April 28 election on a platform of keeping Sánchez out, fearing he would give concessions to the pro-independence parties.

The poll also shows that if voters had known the results of the April election beforehand, only 2.3% would have changed the party they voted for, which perhaps explains why the Socialists have threatened Podemos with a new election rather than back down.

Sánchez confident of winning again

In fact, another CIS poll a week ago suggested that the Socialists would not only win a new snap election but would increase their share of the vote from 28.7% to  39.5%, while Podemos would see its share reduced from 14.3% in April to 12.7%.

While this latest poll sends a message to the Socialists that many voters in Spain do not want them to govern alone, they might well feel confident enough about risking another election and see their strategy for holding on to power come to fruition.