Parties on Spain’s divided left are scrambling to reach an agreement that would allow them to run together in July’s general election against a resurgent right.
The newly created Sumar party, led by labour minister Yolanda Díaz, is the leading force to the left of the Socialists of prime minister Pedro Sánchez going into the election. Sumar has been locked in talks with other parties in recent days with a view to running on a joint ticket, but any such agreement must be registered by Friday night.
Mr Sánchez called the snap election hours after the left suffered a heavy defeat in regional and municipal elections on May 28th. His Socialists lost control of several regional governments and a number of key city halls to the conservative Popular Party.
Sumar did not run in that election and, with the Spanish electoral system favouring larger, united tickets, it has aimed to absorb many of the smaller regional and national parties on the left for the July ballot. By Thursday, it had reached agreements with several parties, including regional forces in Andalucía, the Canary Islands, Madrid and Aragón.
Polls show that Ms Díaz (52), who has membership of the Communist Party but defines herself as a social democrat, is the most popular political leader in the country.
“Today Spain is a train that is heading into the future, that is on its way and cannot turn back,” she told an economic forum this week.
Ms Díaz criticised the spending cuts that the conservatives introduced in the wake of the euro-zone crisis and contrasted them with the more expansionary policies of the current administration, of which she is a deputy prime minister. “These elections are about our future,” she said.
The biggest question mark has been over whether Sumar can reach a deal with Podemos, which has been a junior partner in Mr Sánchez’s coalition government and the dominant force on the hard left in recent years. The party performed poorly in the local elections, losing its representation in the regional assemblies of Madrid and Valencia, and has had a fraught relationship with Sumar.
As the deadline to registering a joint ticket ticked down, several local Podemos politicians were calling on their national leadership to team up with Sumar. Begoña Alfaro, leader of Podemos in Navarre, said it would be “incredibly irresponsible” if an accord was not reached.
Podemos has invited its members to vote, by Friday morning, on whether to join Sumar.
Even if Sumar and Podemos do join forces, polls suggest that the right would find it easier than the left to form a new government, although the opposition PP would almost certainly need the support of the far-right Vox.
The leader of the Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, has said that if he becomes prime minister he will counter the “lies, deception and arrogance” of Mr Sánchez and roll back laws his government has approved easing gender transition and tackling historical memory, as well as eliminating the equality ministry.