PSOE, Podemos agree to parliamentary working group

Pablo Iglesias (L) & Pedro Sánchez at Monday's meeting of Podemos, PSOE negotiating teams. Photo: EFE via Público
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• Parties pledge to undo PP austerity measures, legislation of last Congress
• Divergence on censure motion against Rajoy, Catalan independence vote

In a first tentative meeting Monday between top leaders of Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) and leftwing rival Podemos (We Can), the parties’ leadership teams agreed to move forward in the creation of a parliamentary working group aimed at developing legislation to undo the laws and policies put in place by the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP) majority in the last session of Congress.

They also agreed to work toward developing a parliamentary response to the ongoing crisis over the push for an independence referendum in Spain’s northeast region of Catalonia. That response could be included within a general reform to the 1978 Constitution, which prohibits the holding of referendums or plebiscite votes on independence or secession from Spain.

In the first round of talks, headed by Socialist party secretary general Pedro Sánchez and Podemos secretary general Pablo Iglesias, the party leadership teams fell short of agreeing on when or even if they might introduce a formal censure motion (“vote of no confidence”) against President Mariano Rajoy.

Following the two-hour meeting Monday afternoon, Podemos spokesperson Irene Montero said that Podemos sees the negotiations as a prelude to forming an alternative government, but that her party would respect the PSOE’s timetable for moving in that direction. PSOE spokesperson Margarita Robles indicated in her post-conference remarks that the Socialists are interesting primarily in putting together a parliamentary coalition to overturn austerity measures and legislation negatively impacting social and environmental justice that were imposed by the PP during the last Congress.

On the Catalan question, the spokespersons said the parties had as yet only agreed to seek a common legislative solution in Congress to counter the Rajoy administration’s near-exclusive reliance on lawsuits and court orders to counter moves toward independence by the Catalan regional government.

The Socialists continue to insist on the need for Constitutional reform to address the demands in Catalonia, seeking constitutional amendments that would grant greater autonomy and self-governance at the regional level throughout Spain, while Podemos leaders insist on the need to amend the Constitution in order to make a binding independence referendum possible in Catalonia. The PSOE’s Robles stressed in comments to reporters that the Socialists “do not share the (Podemos) position regarding Catalonia’s sovereignty” and that in no case will the PSOE support “an illegal, unilateral referendum” as currently planned for 1st October by the Catalan regional government.

► Read More in Spanish at Público, El País and El Periódico …

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