Socialists, Ciudadanos & Podemos set to begin last-ditch coalition talks on Thursday afternoon

Albert Rivera, Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias at Dec. 2015 electoral debate. Photo: Uly Martin / El País
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• Tri-party talks must overcome sharp differences prior to May 2nd deadline •

In what seems the start of a last-ditch effort to avert a new round of general elections, Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE), centre-right Ciuadanos party and anti-austerity Podemos party will open three-way negotiations Thursday afternoon to try to reach sufficient compromise on sharp differences in policies and programmes that would enable formation of a coalition government headed by PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez.

Albert Rivera, whose Ciudadanos party is steadily rising in the polls and is positioned to gain more seats in Congress were new elections to be held, goes into the talks having marked out his party’s differences with Podemos, advising that the anti-austerity party led by Pablo Iglesias must abandon its support for an independence referendum in the northern region of Catolonia and that Ciudadanos will only accept a Podemos vote in favor of Pedro Sánchez and a previously signed PSOE-Ciudadanos pact — not an abstention — if a deal is to be worked out.

Opinion polls released over the weekend show a continuing upward tendency in voter approval of both Ciudadanos and United Left (Izquierda Unida), whose leaders have positioned themselves since the inconclusive Dec. 20th general election as conciliators and go-betweens among the larger parties, while a steady Podemos decline in the polls appears linked to voters’ perception of a combative stance taken by the anti-austerity party leader Iglesias toward formation of a coalition with the Socialists.

► Read More in Spanish at El País and Libertad Digital …

► Read More in English at El País and The Spain Report …

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