June 11, 2019 / 12:57 PM / 2 months ago

Spain's Socialists, far-left agree to cooperate in government

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Socialists agreed on Tuesday to cooperate on forming a government with far-left party Podemos, stopping short of announcing a coalition as they explore a combination of options for securing a majority in parliament.

FILE PHOTO: Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez talks to the media as he arrives at a European Union leaders summit after European Parliament elections to discuss who should run the EU executive for the next five years, in Brussels, Belgium May 28, 2019. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

The Socialists won a national election in April but only a minority of seats, leaving Spain’s political landscape deeply fragmented.

Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, invited last week by King Felipe VI to seek a mandate for government, threatened on Monday to call another election if opposition parties blocked his efforts to form one.

Sanchez met on Tuesday with Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

Even combined, their two parties lack a majority of parliamentary seats, but Iglesias told journalists that both men were optimistic, and he was hopeful that the meeting could “translate into a more concrete, progressive agreement” on government.

Iglesias wants Podemos to be part of a ruling coalition, an idea Sanchez has so far rejected.

Adriana Lastra, spokeswoman for the Socialists in parliament, said the meeting was held in the context of “our clear mandate from the election of forming a progressive government.”

“Now we to have seek formulas to form a cooperation government,” she said.

Sanchez is scheduled to meet with centre-right Ciudadanos’ leader Albert Rivera and the head of the mainstream conservative People’s Party, Pablo Casado, later on Tuesday.

The Socialists won 123 seats in April and Podemos 42, leaving them short of the 176 needed for a majority. Smaller regional parties could make up the shortfall, but that will require more talks, probably including with Catalan pro-independence leaders.

Reporting By Belen Carreno; Writing by Axel Bugge; editing by John Stonestreet

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