Leaders of Spain’s Socialist party and smaller left-wing rival Unidas Podemos signed a 10-point “pre-agreement” on Tuesday establishing the basis for formation of a progressive coalition government.
The coalition government envisioned in the joint accord, details of which are still being finalized, will need the support of several smaller parties in Spain’s 350-member Congress in order to win approval by congressional vote next month.
Signed by Spain’s acting President Pedro Sánchez of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, the pre-agreement sets out a series of progressive policies in the areas of labour and employment, environment and climate change, individual and collective rights and offering dialogue in an effort to restore normalcy in Catalonia within the framework of Spain’s Constitution.
The text of the pre-agreement said details of the proposal would be released in the coming days. While a coalition government presumes leaders of both parties would serve in ministerial posts, no names were mentioned in the accord itself — but Spanish press reports said Iglesias would join Spain’s current Minister of Business and Economics, Nadia Calviño, as one of two or more vice-presidents in the new government.
If the Socialists and Unidas Podemos secure sufficient support from other parties to ensure approval by Congress, the proposed coalition government could be in place as early as mid-December. But, securing support will be no easy feat.
As a result of Sunday’s general election, the PSOE and Unidas Podemos will have just 155 seats in the 350-member Congress, far short of the 176-seat absolute majority needed in a first round of congressional voting to enable them to form a government.
According to press reports, the two parties believe they can attain as many as 170 total votes with the support of smaller parties in Congress, including Más País (3 seats), the Basque Nationalist PNV party (7), the Partido Regionalista de Cantabria (1), ¡Teruel Existe! (1), Galicia’s Bloque Nacionalista Galego (1) and possibly the centre-right Canary Islands’ Coalición Canaria (2 seats).
Those 170 votes would still leave them short of the absolute majority, meaning confirmation of the proposed coalition government would most certainly go to a second round of voting. In a second round, the proposed candidate for forming a new government needs only a simple majority of the parties casting votes and with the abstention of a handful of deputies from one of the other parties in Congress the coalition government could make it over the line.
The most likely candidate for abstention would appear to be the Catalan pro-independence ERC party (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya), which abstained in the voting on Pedro Sanchez’s last unsuccessful attempt to form a government this summer. So far, however, ERC spokespersons have expressed reticence to abstain and allow the PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition to move forward.
The ERC is insisting on dialogue with Sánchez that includes discussion of what they say is the right of Catalans to decide in a referendum on whether they wish to secede or remain a part of Spain — an option that contravenes the Spanish Constitution of 1978 and also runs contrary to the positions of both the PSOE and Unidas Podemos on Catalonia as expressed in Tuesday’s 10-point pre-agreement form a government.
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