Socialists, Unidas Podemos to renew negotiations today

Pedro Sánchez (L) meets with Basque PNV party's President Andoni Ortuzar on Wednesday. Photo: PSOE via El Confidencial
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► Sánchez secures tentative PRC & PNV support, abstention pledge from ERC
► Unidas Podemos foresees lengthy negotiations with 23 Sept deadline looming

The Socialist party (PSOE) of President Pedro Sánchez is set to resume negotiations with its left-wing rival Unidas Podemos coalition this evening, following nearly a month of no direct discussions toward arriving at a formula that could enable Sánchez to secure UP votes in a bid to form a new government.

Today’s talks will see a three-person PSOE negotiating team led by Vice-President Carmen Calvo meet with negotiators from Unidas Podemos led by Pablo Echenique. The negotiations are beginning with just 18 days to go until a 23rd September deadline for forming a new government — failure to do so will mean automatic dissolution of Spain’s two-chamber parliament that would trigger new elections in early November.

On Wednesday, as the Unidas Podemos leadership mulled over a 370-point program put forward earlier in the week by the PSOE as a basis for negotiation, Sánchez flew to Santander to meet with the leadership of the Partido Regionalista de Cantabria (PRC, or Regionalist Party of Cantabria).

He then met with the Basque nationalist PNV party leadership. Leaders of both parties said in comments following those meetings that they would support a new government led by Sánchez, provided his party reach an agreement with Unidas Podemos before the 23rd September deadline.

Likewise, the PSOE’s Organization Secretary José Luis Ábalos and congressional spokesperson Adriana Lastra met with leaders of the Catalan pro-independence ERC party to secure its abstention in any vote on Sanchez’s candidacy to become president of a new government.

By Thursday morning, Unidas Podemos sources were hinting at a lengthy, point-by-point negotiation process and said the party’s approach in the talks will depend on whether or not the PSOE negotiators indicate they are willing to consider a governing coalition in which the two parties participate with ministerial portfolios, or whether the PSOE will insist on governing alone and simply wants to secure support and the votes of UP deputies in Congress for any vote on Sanchez’s candidacy.

Leaders of both the PRC and PNV came out of meetings with Sánchez Wednesday expressing skepticism that an agreement can be reached between the PSOE and UP before the 23rd September deadline, telling reporters they felt the most likely outcome would be a stalemate in the negotiations that would trigger a new general election on 10th November.

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