Spanish Opposition Party Signals Willingness to Break Stalemate

(Bloomberg) -- Spain’s six-month-old political deadlock moved closer to being broken Saturday after opposition party leader Albert Rivera for the first time signaled a willingness to negotiate with the Socialists, in a move that may allow acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to finally form a government.

Rivera stopped short of proposing a coalition but said he was willing to abstain or even vote in favor of the Socialists in a confidence vote, should they once again again emerge as the biggest group in November’s repeat election. In exchange, Rivera would receive support for 10 reforms proposed by his Ciudadanos party, El Pais reported citing people familiar with Rivera’s thinking.

Spanish Opposition Party Signals Willingness to Break Stalemate

“I will call the Socialists and Pedro Sanchez so we can sit down and talk about these reforms,” Rivera said at a political rally in Madrid on Saturday. “If the Spanish people decide that Pedro Sanchez and the Socialists should be the government, my pledge will still be valid: I will support these reforms even if we’re not in government.”

Spain is headed for its fourth election in as many years on Nov. 10, with the latest failure to produce a governing alliance highlighting the increasingly fractured state of the country’s politics. Rivera’s olive branch may represent the best chance for Spain to form a government.

It signals a significant cooling of tensions between the two parties. Immediately after Sanchez won the most votes in April’s elections, Rivera ruled out any pact and the two barely spoke during five months of talks that saw the Socialists and the anti-austerity Podemos party fail to form a coalition.

The reforms Rivera will propose have mainly a social focus, according to El Pais. They include policies to improve Spain’s fertility rate and address depopulation in rural areas, as well as reforming the electoral system and changes to education, health and labor.

Recent polls suggest a similar outcome to the previous elections, in which Sanchez’s Socialists received the most votes but fell short of a majority in parliament.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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