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Spain’s Socialists, far-left party move closer to govt deal

July 19, 2019
FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks during a media conference during an EU summit in Brussels. It is announced Friday July 19, 2019, that Sanchez is ready to create a coalition government with the United We Can party, so long as its leader, Pablo Iglesias, is not part of the future Cabinet. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, FILE)
FILE - In this file photo dated Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks during a media conference during an EU summit in Brussels. It is announced Friday July 19, 2019, that Sanchez is ready to create a coalition government with the United We Can party, so long as its leader, Pablo Iglesias, is not part of the future Cabinet. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, FILE)

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s center-left Socialist party and the United We Can party edged closer to a deal on forming a coalition government after the far-left party’s leader removed a key obstacle by saying Friday he would not insist on being part of a future Cabinet.

Isabel Celaá, the spokeswoman for the Socialist caretaker government, said acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was ready to create a coalition with the United We Can party, so long as its leader, Pablo Iglesias, was not part of it.

Sánchez said Thursday he has deep differences of opinion with Iglesias on such issues as the Catalonia region’s demands for independence, which the Socialists oppose.

Nevertheless, Celaá said Friday that “the offer of a coalition government is on the table” for United We Can to consider before parliament next week holds confidence votes on the Socialist party’s bid to take office.

Iglesias signaled he was thinking of taking the offer.

“I won’t be the Socialists’ excuse for there not to be a coalition of parties on the left,” he said in a tweet hours after Celaá spoke.

However, he said he wants his party’s Cabinet seats to be proportional to the number of parliamentary seats it captured in April’s general election, where United We Can earned 42 seats, compared with 123 for the Socialists.

The Socialists require parliament’s endorsement and are shy of the 176 votes they need to achieve a majority in the 350-seat chamber next Tuesday. Even with United We Can’s backing, Sánchez would still need other smaller parties’ support to win that vote.

If that bid fails, a second vote is scheduled for Thursday, when Sánchez will only need to get more “Yes” votes than “No” votes.

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