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Spain’s Podemos to consult party base on support for coalition

Podemos (We Can) leader Pablo Iglesias smiles between fellow party member Inigo Errejon and Socialists's spokesman Antonio Hernando during a meeting of negotiation groups of Cuidadanos, Podemos and PSOE at the Parliament in Madrid

The leader of Spain’s leftist newcomer party Podemos said on Friday he would consult its membership on whether to join a proposed three-way coalition to try to end the country’s political limbo.

Following a fragmented vote in national elections in December, parties must combine to form a viable government by May 2 or parliament will be dissolved and fresh elections called, most likely in June.

The opposition Socialists, Ciudadanos and Podemos failed on Thursday after a first meeting to make progress in forming a coalition, given divisions between the latter two parties, notably over tax hikes and an independence referendum in Catalonia.

Despite Friday’s announcement by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, who said a party referendum would take place between April 14 and 16, chances of any alliance between the three remain unlikely, with Ciudadanos saying on Thursday that differences with Podemos were irreconcilable.

After months of fruitless coalition talks between different combinations of parties, a second election looks increasingly likely, though polls show it too would produce an inconclusive result.

Iglesias said the referendum would also ask Podemos members if they favoured a purely leftist party pact instead.

Such a coalition of Podemos, the Socialists, and several small regional parties would yield a small majority in parliament. But it is also unlikely due to the challenges of pulling together many disparate groupings.

Mariano Rajoy, acting prime minister since his conservative government was ousted in December, favours a coalition of centre-left and centre-right parties, but public anger over his administration’s austerity measures and corruption cases has shunted him to the sidelines of negotiations.

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