Spain's Socialist leader wants to head progressive coalition

AP News
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Posted: Jan 07, 2016 12:23 PM
Spain's Socialist leader wants to head progressive coalition

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — If Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is unable to form a government despite his recent election victory, the main opposition Socialist party will try to take power by forging a broad alliance with parties determined to change the country's direction, Spanish Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez said Thursday.

Rajoy's conservative Popular Party won a Dec. 20 ballot but failed to get a majority in Parliament and is having trouble finding political support to form an administration.

"If (Rajoy) fails, the Socialist party will convene a grand coalition of progressive forces to lead the process of change Spain needs," Sanchez told a news conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

Sanchez accused the Popular Party, which has governed Spain for the past four years, of dismantling social services and deepening inequality. He said a Socialist-led coalition would fight for economic growth and jobs, increase pensions and the minimum salary, and introduce fairer taxes.

Sanchez's Socialists came second in the ballot and are eyeing the possibility of emulating Portugal's Socialist leader Antonio Costa, who received Sanchez for talks in the Portuguese capital. Costa's party also came second in an election at the end of last year, but he built an alliance with the Communist Party and radical Left Bloc to form a government — a so-called "coalition of losers." Since November, Costa's administration has set about reversing austerity measures adopted by the previous center-right government.

Spanish custom is that the monarch invites the election winner to form a government, but King Felipe VI could also nominate a coalition of other parties that collected fewer votes if they can deliver a more stable option. The nominated party leader must win a vote of confidence in Parliament to take office.

If the issue is not resolved after two months, a new election is called.