Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

The socialists won the general election but fell well short of a majority.

31-07-2019Oscar J. Barroso

Attempts by Spain's PSOE socialist party to form a government and avoid a snap election hit another wall on Thursday as Pedro Sánchez's proposal for a Portuguese-style minority government got short shrift from the far-left Podemos party.

Acting PM Sánchez failed twice last week in his bid to be confirmed as premier by a deeply fragmented parliament after negotiations to form a coalition government with Podemos collapsed. PSOE won the general election in April but fell well short of a majority. Sánchez now has until mid-September to secure parliamentary support for his administration or face another election in November.

He has now ruled out a coalition with Podemos and, in a letter to party members on Wednesday, said he would instead seek to govern in minority, starting talks from scratch and looking for support for "a progressive government" across the political spectrum. A minority government similar to those formed by social democrat parties in Denmark and Portugal, backed in parliament by allies on the basis of a common programme, was one option.

In Portugal, the socialists of Prime Minister Antonio Costa have been in office since 2015 after clinching an unprecedented deal for support in parliament with the Communists and Left Bloc. However, relations with the far left have soured as a new election nears, and last month the socialists sided with the centre-right, voting down all proposals from their allies on labour reforms that would have benefited workers.

Podemos' deputy leader Irene Montero suggested that this was not a path Spain should go down. "The 'Portuguese-model government', ideal to agree a labour reform with the right and against the interest of workers. Is that really the socialist proposal for Spain?" she tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Podemos reiterated calls to resume talks with PSOE in exchange for supporting Sánchez in any future confirmation vote. Sánchez has, in theory, several options for winning parliamentary support. But with right-of-centre parties ruling out supporting him, he had begun focusing on securing backing from Podemos and at least one Catalan pro-independence party, both of which abstained last week.

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