Albert Rivera thinks a deal with the PP can be met.

24-02-2016Sergio Barrenechea

Following the agreement with Ciudadanos (C's) which he hopes will pave the way to his investiture as prime minister next week, the general secretary of PSOE, Pedro Sánchez, said today that he expects little or no support from the Partido Popular for this investiture. On the other hand, he expressed confidence that there would be support from parties of the left, such as Podemos.

Despite Podemos having broken off negotiations with PSOE because it could not accept the agreement with the C's, Sánchez said that it would be "totally incomprehensible" were Podemos to vote with Mariano Rajoy and the PP and so against a socialist candidate for prime minister. Rather than keep Rajoy in office, Sánchez said, Podemos should at least abstain in the investiture vote for a socialist prime minister. Sánchez made clear that he was still holding his hand out to Podemos.

There is a great deal of common ground with Podemos, he argued, beyond that of the referendum on Catalonia or the increased public spend of 96,000 million euros that "would put economic recovery at risk". But he suggested that while there had been an agreement for change between PSOE and the C's, there had been an agreement to block it between the PP and Podemos.

Of the deal with the C's, Sánchez said that both parties had given ground in order to benefit the Spanish people and to undo the blockage in Spanish politics. "I'm fine with it. When one does what one has to and does so convinced of not having lied or having made an about-turn and of having done so by telling the truth, one could lose or win the vote, but ultimately PSOE and the C's have understood the message from the Spanish people and we have reached an agreement."

The arrangement (for an outline legislative programme) with the C's was, he stated, "open, does not confront and does not exclude" and he expected it to be added to by contributions from other parties. Given that it does not expressly indicate a repeal of the PP's labour reform, Sánchez downplayed the importance of this. "You don't have to use the verb repeal to recognise there is a de facto repeal." PSOE and the C's would, he said, remove the "most damaging" aspects of the PP's reforms and would re-introduce collective bargaining and bring in three types of employment contract designed to reduce the level of temporary employment.

On the so-called gag law, Sánchez said that it wasn't possible to just take the Tippex and remove the law from the Official Bulletin but that the most controversial elements would be scrapped.  

Albert Rivera, the president of the C's, seemed rather more confident of there being some form of accord with the PP. He was hopeful that Mariano Rajoy would meet him and added that there were "few excuses" for him to not do so and to also join the agreement struck with PSOE. Rivera insisted that there are many issues in the agreement that are shared by PP voters, while Rajoy himself has appeared to accept several of them in respect of, for example, national unity, budgetary stability, commitment to not raise taxes and anti-terrorism policy.

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