Venezuela Is Making It Hard for Spain to Form a New Government

(Bloomberg) -- The botched uprising in Venezuela is having a surprising but tangible effect on politics all the way over in Spain.

By allowing the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to seek refuge as a “guest” in its embassy in Caracas, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has chosen to deepen its involvement with the tortured situation in a way that’s not to the liking of possible partners.

Venezuela Is Making It Hard for Spain to Form a New Government

After his Socialists won the most seats in elections held April 28, he still needs the support of the anti-establishment party Podemos to be able to form a government. The trouble is that Podemos’s leader Pablo Iglesias thinks the attempt by Juan Guaido, with Lopez at his side, to seize power on Tuesday amounted to an attempted coup.

“Guaido doesn’t want free elections -- he wants a coup d’etat that provokes an intervention by Donald Trump and a blood bath in Venezuela,” Iglesias said on Wednesday. He also thinks Sanchez made a mistake by recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president.

Sanchez is due to hold talks with political leaders including Iglesias next week as he starts to explore his options to form a government.

Venezuela Is Making It Hard for Spain to Form a New Government

Meanwhile tensions continue to rise in Caracas with a court on Wednesday ordering the arrest of Lopez. Spain said it wouldn’t hand him over. It’s also pressing for immediate elections and repeating its call for the situation not to descend into a bloodbath.

It’s comparatively rare for a foreign policy issue to become a significant event in Spanish domestic politics but the Venezuela issue is one, said Antonio Barroso, managing director for Europe at Teneo Intelligence in London.

Even so, it’s unlikely to have much influence for now on the process of forming a new government, said Barroso. What is clear is that by welcoming Lopez into its ambassador’s home in Caracas, Spain has raised the stakes by choosing to become more involved in the unstable politics of Venezuela.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.