Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s Socialist caretaker prime minister, has reached an agreement to form a coalition government with Pablo Iglesias of the radical left Podemos movement.
The deal was announced on Tuesday, barely 48 hours after the country held inconclusive elections in which both parties lost seats and the far-right Vox party made big advances.
“We have reached a pre-agreement to form a progressive coalition government,” said Mr Iglesias.
Before the elections, Mr Sanchez had resisted forming such a coalition with Podemos, which has much more expansive fiscal plans than the Socialists and a more accommodating line towards Catalan separatism.
Modern Spain has never had a coalition government.
But the Socialists’ performance fell short of Mr Sanchez’s expectations, leaving him with little alternative other than a deal with Podemos. Both the Socialists and the centre-right opposition People’s party have ruled out a Germany-style grand coalition.
Combining the Socialists’ 120 seats and Podemos’ 35 will still leave the two parties far short of a majority in the 350 seat chamber of deputies, meaning the proposed government will have to win the backing of regionalist parties in a formal vote of confidence in parliament.
It may also have to rely on abstention by Catalan separatist parties — which could be contentious at a time when tensions in the Catalonia independence dispute are running high.
“Our country urgently needs a new government as soon as possible,” Mr Sanchez said. “This is going to be a thoroughly progressive government.”
The two men, who barely spoke to each other during failed coalition negotiations over the summer, hugged at the end of the press conference.
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