Spain’s main political parties on Wednesday outlined conflicting views on how to form a government after an inconclusive election on Sunday, assuming that the negotiations would be complex and time-consuming.
Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez said after meeting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that he would reject any pact that paved the way to a new government with the People’s Party (PP) or its leader Rajoy. His statements dashed hopes of a grand coalition of the mainstream left and right.
"We say 'no' to Rajoy and his policies," Sanchez told a news conference after the meeting.
"The Socialists will work so that there is a new government, a government of change, with progressive ideas and capacity for dialogue," he said.
On Sunday, center-right Rajoy’s PP won Spain's general election with 123 seats followed by the opposition Socialists with 90 seats - their worst result ever. However, the PP fell short of a majority and will need allies to get the 176 seats necessary the 350 seat parliament if it is to govern the country for another four-year term.
Both PSOE and PP lost significant ground to the relatively new liberal Cuidadanos and anti-austerity Podemos parties.
Forming a government with a majority in parliament seems almost impossible for the PP without the Socialists’ support. Some other combination may work but they would need at least three parties to reach an accord.
Sanchez said that he would do everything to avoid new elections and would support Rajoy on some issues such as terrorism or Spanish unity against the risk of seeing the northeastern region of Catalonia declaring independence.
Rajoy and Sanchez did not discuss a pact in detail, according to sources. Sanchez clarified in the beginning of the meeting that he would not support the PP and his party should seek support from other parties to form a majority.
As the first chance to form a new government, Rajoy has started to hold meetings with party leaders. He will meet Ciudadanos' Albert Rivera and Podemos' Pablo Iglesias next Monday.
Rivera said that his party would abstain from a parliamentary voting on forming a new PP administration and called on Wednesday for three-way talks on reforms with the PSOE and the PP.
"We propose a pact between the PP and the PSOE so that nobody takes advantage of the weakness, uncertainty and instability to break up this country," he told a news conference in Madrid.
Podemos took a similar stance to the Socialists, saying that it would not agree to any pact that would enable Rajoy or the PP to be in government again.
Seen as a potential fit for a Socialist-led government, Podemos also said that it could back an "independent prestigious figure" as candidate if Sanchez did not get the support of his own party to form an alliance with Podemos.