Spain's ruling PP keeps Madrid region after pact with Ciudadanos

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 19, 2015 11:45 AM

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's ruling People's Party (PP) signed a pact with newcomer party Ciudadanos on Friday allowing it to keep control of Madrid's regional government.

Ciudadanos, on a ticket to weed out the corruption which has eroded Spaniards' faith in mainstream politics during a deep economic crisis, set conditions on transparency and public services for its support of the PP in Madrid.

The deal foresees that Ciudadanos' 17 representatives in the local parliament will vote with the PP's 48 lawmakers to back Cristina Cifuentes as the new regional head. Ciudadanos will however not be part of her cabinet.

Ciudadanos leader in Madrid Ignacio Aguado said the alliance was an attempt to overcome decades of two-party politics.

"People are calling for dialogue and understanding across the political spectrum, and that is what we will undertake," he said at a joint presser with Cifuentes.

Yet, analysts say the party is also putting itself at risk of being tainted by association with the PP -- several of whose heavyweights have been arrested in graft investigations.

The alliance is one of many untested political liaisons that have emerged over the last month in Spain ahead of a general election expected toward the end of the year.

NATIONAL ELECTION LOOMS

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's PP won in 10 of 13 regions in May local elections but it will keep office in just 4 autonomous communities - Madrid, Murcia, Castilla y Leon and La Rioja - as other groups formed coalitions to send it into local opposition.

In the long-time PP bastion of Valencia, for instance, a leftist alliance lead by the Socialists and backed by anti-austerity Podemos is set to govern from next week.

In other regions, such as Asturias or the Canary Islands, regional parties will govern with the backing of left-wing groups while in the Andalusia region a pact was made between the Socialists and Ciudadanos.

Podemos and Ciudadanos have chipped away at the voter support of the older Socialists and PP to turn the general election into a four-horse race in just one year.

Polls show the PP may win the general election but, as in the regions, the party will likely fall short of the votes needed to be able to govern alone in the national parliament.

(Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Julien Toyer and Ralph Boulton)