Spain's biggest left-wing parties discuss partnership to break election deadlock

The leaders of Spain's two biggest opposition parties, the left wing Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the grassroots far-left phenomenon Podemos are due to meet tonight to discuss potential pacts between the Spanish left against the ruling, right-wing People's Party (PP), Spanish daily El Paísreports.

The local and municipal elections in late May saw the PP win the most votes but lose its majority in Madrid, as well as losing Barcelona entirely to Podemos-backed Ada Colau. Only 52% of the national vote went to either PSOE or PP, however Podemos were also unable to declare a clear victory in many regions as the party came third across all 17 regional parliaments, a far cry from earlier this the year when they were pipped as the most popular party in Spain.

These results followed the departure of Podemos-founder Juan Carlos Monedero who left at the end of April, claiming that the party was giving in to moderates.

Now Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias and PSOE secretary general Pedro Sánchez are preparing to meet to discuss a rumoured pact between the two parties in the regions of Extremadura, Comunidad Valenciana and Castilla-La Mancha where the parties' local representatives have reportedly already met.

No party won an absolute majority in these regions as well as in Madrid and a PSOE/Podemos coalition would put the two parties in the driving seat ahead of the PP. 13 out of the 17 regions who voted have no majority winner.

However, how far the two leaders are willing to compromise is unclear as Iglesias attacked Sánchez for his defiant statement that the PSOE would not bend on their social democratic ideals.

"Show more humility, Pedro," Iglesias said in a meeting in Toledo. "You have just endured the (PSOE's) worst election result since 1979."

In a press conference ahead of this evening's meeting, the PSOE have attempted to lower expectations of any sweeping outcomes, as spokesman Rafael Mayoral said: "I do not think we are expecting a meeting which we will come out from with concrete agreements."

However Sánchez insisted that "if Podemos agreed to [our] reforms, it is possible we can reach an understanding." Mayoral highlighted that the need to form majorities in regions is a pressing necessity.

Antonio Barroso, eurozone analyst at corporate advisory firm Teneo believes that the staggering lack of clear winners in Spain's regional elections could set a precedent for this autumn's parliamentary elections. "Given the rising levels of political fragmentation at all levels of government, we can certainly expect increased pact-making in the future," he says.

Tonight's meeting marks a shift in Podemos's attitude as their anti-corruption platform has seen them be critical of the PSOE as well as the PP, with some of their supporters coining the term PPSOE to band the two together online. Barroso warns excessive compromise could hurt the party that was built on the anti-establishment Indignados movement.

"One of Podemos' biggest challenges is transitioning from a protest movement to a party that is able to negotiate and compromise in order to exercise real political influence," he says. "The results of the local and municipal elections are in fact forcing Podemos to face one of its main underlying tensions that could ultimately hurt them in the general election."

Andalusian Podemos leader Teresa Rodriguez has previously claimed the PSOE in her region make backroom deals with the PP and has condemned them for having "bipolar impulses" toward her party.

Support from Podemos has recently waned slightly and a poll in April showed them at 18%, while Spain's financial problems have slightly improved, which could impact Podemos' support. Prime minister Mariano Rajoy yesterday boasted that unemployment figures had fallen by 118,000 between April and May, highlighting this showed the PP should govern.

Spain's staggering unemployment rate of nearly 24% has been one of the biggest points of criticism against the PP's austerity program, as Iglesias has consistently questioned the PP's loyalty to Spain's poor.

In a bid to show that Podemos are maintaining their anti-establishment credentials throughout the talks with PSOE, Alvaro Jaen, one of the Podemos members who was involved in the negotiations in Extramadura has posted a video of the meeting, hoping to highlight that his party are still transparent.

"We do what we say," Jaen wrote on his Twitter as he posted the video last night.