Spanish Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez. (Emiliano García-Page Sánchez / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Pedro Sanchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), announced Wednesday that his party would not support acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to continue in office.

Rajoy’s right-wing People’s Party (PP) emerged with the most votes in Sunday’s election in Spain, gaining 123 seats but falling short of a majority in the 350-seat Legislature. For decades the Socialists and the PP have alternated in the seat of government, but the rise of two new parties, the left-wing Podemos (We Can) and the liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens) has left Spanish politics fragmented.

“We have to open a new political period in Spain, led by change, by progress and dialogue,” said Sanchez, declaring that the PSOE “is not going to support the continuity of either Mariano Rajoy or the People’s Party at the head of the Spanish government.”

“No to Rajoy means yes to change,” Sanchez said after a meeting with the prime minister, adding that he did not want new elections.

From The Guardian:

“We were clear: we will vote against the continuity of the PP at the helm of the government, with Mariano Rajoy as prime minister,” he told a news conference after the 40-minute encounter.

In recent days the Socialists – whose 90 seats make them key to deciding what the country’s next government will look like – have said repeatedly they will not support a government led by Rajoy.

But Sánchez did not say if the Socialists would support the party if Rajoy were to step down as leader.

The Socialist leader reiterated that the PP should be the first to try to form a government since it won the most votes. But he said if the party failed, his formation would “explore all options for there to be a government of change”.

It was the first time the two leaders had spoken in person since last week’s acrimonious campaign debate, in which Sánchez called Rajoy indecent and argued he should have resigned two years ago after being mired in allegations of corruption. Rajoy dismissed the accusations, calling Sánchez “mean, petty and miserable”.

The Socialists had been the PP’s best hope for leading a stable government. A grand coalition – unprecedented in Spanish politics – to prop up the PP is a tough sell, given that it would be likely to cripple the Socialists’ prospects in future elections.

Sánchez said on Wednesday that the Socialists would instead seek to work with other parties – such as Podemos with its 69 seats and Ciudadanos with 40 seats – to explore all options for change. “Spain needs a big transformation … the Socialists will seek to build bridges of dialogue and agreement,” he said.

Read more here.

The PSOE and the PP “have consistently failed to understand and address the massive social dissent born in 2011 from the austerity measures both implemented; the Indignados movement,” writes Victor Lasa in Counterpunch. “The destiny of the next government will rely on a plethora of political organizations seating in the most varied, colorful, and inscrutable parliament in Spanish democratic history,” continues Lasa. “Ten different parties make up a political ecosystem that will have to figure out how to facilitate coexistence and cooperation. It may well provide, as some have claimed, for the collective healing of many of Spain’s old wounds, still raw from the struggles of the 1936-39 Civil War.”

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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