Andalusia: PP, Ciudadanos to form coalition government backed by Vox

PP leader Pablo Casado expects to become Spain’s next PM “within six to twelve months” with the support of Ciudadanos

MARIONA FERRER I FORNELLS / DANI SÁNCHEZ UGART

After flirting all week with Vox, on Thursday PP leader Pablo Casado chose to distance himself from Spain’s up-and-coming far-right party and stated that his priority is to form a coalition government with Ciudadanos and secure Vox’s parliamentary support in the Andalusian chamber. Casado’s remarks came during an informal chat with reporters at an event held in the Spanish parliament to mark the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution. The Partido Popular in Andalusia intends to “govern with 47 seats” in the regional parliament, Ciudadanos and the PP’s, and persuade the far right to back them as needed. Casado said that “Vox will have to justify why they abstain [in parliament], if they choose not support us”, but he did acknowledge that they would engage in talks with the far right party, even though he ruled out shutting down Andalusia’s public broadcaster, one of the measures requested by Vox leader Santiago Abascal.

Pablo Casado has decided to accept the invitation extended by Ciudadanos on Wednesday to discuss a coalition government that excludes Vox, for now. Still, the PP leader made it clear that they have every intention to govern and hope to achieve “a global agreement” before December 27, the date when Andalusia’s parliamentary board is due to be voted in and a Speaker of the House should be elected. The PP would gladly offer the job to a Ciudadanos MP, but the latter aren’t ruling out any scenarios at the moment and are keeping their options open with the PSOE. If a satisfactory arrangement can be worked out, Pablo Casado anticipates a similar Spain-wide coalition government “within six to twelve months”. The PP leader believes that they need to “optimise” their strengths, as Ciudadanos may be able to lure some PSOE voters while the PP could manage to curb the growth of Vox.

Susana Díaz: they must decide if they want to be Macron or Salvini

The incumbent president of Andalusia, Susana Díaz, exchanged pleasantries with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez at the reception held on occasion of the anniversary of the Constitution and challenged Casado and Rivera to decide whether follow in the footsteps of “Merkel and Macron”, who laid a cordon sanitaire to isolate the far right —as she has argued for— or do what Salvini has done in Italy. On the 40th anniversary of the Spanish Constitution, president Díaz seized the opportunity to emphasise the need to thwart Vox’s rise and added that forty years ago “the two opposing camps” sat at a negotiating table and reached an accord, so now they should be able “to stop the far right” and stand up for “freedom, the rule of law and equality”.

Pablo Casado, in contrast, noted that Vox “is more like Donald Trump than Marine Le Pen”. Those were his words while chatting to the press, when he stated that he does not intend to repeat three-way coalition governments “like Patxi López in the Basque Country and Pasqual Maragall in Catalonia”. Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez said a tri-party coalition (PP, Ciudadanos and Vox) was a done thing in Andalusia and he clarified that his party’s leader in Andalusia, Susana Díaz, had his full support, after the PSOE’s Organisation Secretary and Investment Minister José Luis Ábalos had initially hinted that she should step down. Sánchez stressed that Susana Díaz is still his candidate and the leader of the socialist party in Andalusia.

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