PSOE Balearics pact at risk over Podemos crisis

PSOE's Francina Armengol, president of the Balearic Islands. Photo: Emilio Naranjo / EFE via El País
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• Podemos suspends membership of parliament president, triggering crisis
• Three-way pact with Podemos, Més environmentalists may face renegotiation

The Balearic Islands regional government led by President Francina Armengol of the Socialist party (PSOE) appears to be suffering the fallout of a crisis within rival anti-austerity Podemos (We Can), one of the political forces supporting Armengol’s Socialist administration since the signing of a pact in June that returned the Socialists to power after four years of rule by an absolute majority of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) in the local assembly.

Podemos national leadership announced this week that pending the outcome of an investigation into corruption allegations it was suspending the party membership of three regional Podemos legislators, including Maria Consuelo “Xelo” Huertas, the president of the Balearic Islands regional assembly.

Huertas accepted the suspension of her membership in Podemos, but then announced what amounts to open rebellion against the Podemos national leadership, saying she refuses to step down as president of the legislature and that she will vote against the remaining Podemos legislators when compelled to do so ‘by her conscience.’ As a sign of her indepenence, she cast her vote on the very next legislative matter in line with PP minority in the chamber.

Armengol’s position as Balearics president depends on the continuation of the pact signed in January 2015 between the Socialists, the regional Més per Mallorca/Menorca environmentalists and Podemos, which had already warned that as a result of the national PSOE party abstention that enabled the PP’s Mariano Rajoy to return to power as Spanish prime minister, it may break off the pact and see renegotiation in January.

With the Podemos Balearics party now in turmoil over the suspension of its leadership, Armengol has responded by calling for calm all around, in an apparent effort to keep the pact together and ensure stability of the Socialist-led government.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo, El País and Diario de Mallorca …

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