Spain's Podemos Agrees to Talk with Socialists, Breaking Deadlock
Spain's far-left party Podemos said Thursday it had agreed to negotiate with the Socialist party (PSOE) over forming a government, breaking a weeks-long potentially damaging deadlock in talks.
Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias had until now refused to sit down with the Socialists if they continued to talk with upstart centrist grouping Ciudadanos -- an ultimatum rejected by PSOE head Pedro Sanchez, who has been nominated by the king as candidate to lead the country.
But he said Thursday he had agreed to four-way talks between the negotiating teams of Podemos, the PSOE, smaller far-left party Izquierda Unida and Compromis, a regional grouping from Valencia in eastern Spain.
"It's a good idea... We're fully available for our teams to meet and talk," he said.
Spain has been mired in political deadlock for close to nine weeks since inconclusive elections in December resulted in a parliament split among four main parties -- none of which have enough seats to govern alone.
Since his nomination as prime ministerial candidate, Sanchez has held talks with most parties in parliament to try and get enough support for a crux March vote to see him through as prime minister.
He needs a simple majority, but with just 89 seats obtained in the elections out of 350, Sanchez needs the backing of several parties -- a difficult task as all have conflicting agendas.
Podemos, which has 65 seats, has said it is willing to enter a left-wing coalition government with the Socialists, with Iglesias as vice-president.
But the long-established PSOE is wary of joining together with an upstart party born just two years ago out of anger over austerity, which ultimately seeks to supplant it.
The two parties also have a major stumbling block in the form of Catalonia's independence movement.
Although it does not want to see Spain split up, Podemos backs organizing a Scotland-style referendum in the northeastern region. Sanchez however is resolutely against this.