Spain’s leftist Podemos says to sign deal with Diaz’s Sumar in elections

MADRID (Reuters) -Spain’s far-left Podemos party intends to run in next month’s election with Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz’s Sumar party, Podemos said on Friday just hours before the expiry of a deadline for all parties to register.

Podemos General Secretary Ione Belarra said, however, the two parties still have disagreements to settle, most notably Sumar’s opposition to the candidacy of current Equality Minister Irene Montero.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called a snap election for July 23 after his Socialist party (PSOE) and their junior coalition partner Podemos performed worse than expected in local elections last month, losing ground to right-wing parties.

Sanchez struck a deal in 2019 to form Spain’s first coalition government with Podemos.

“We’ll run in the general election with Sumar, the decision has been made,” Belarra said in a speech in the party’s headquarters after asking its base to vote on the issue.

Diaz announced plans last year to unify all of the parties to the left of the PSOE in the new Sumar platform.

Sumar said in a statement on Friday that it had registered the alliance with Podemos and a series of, mostly regional, parties with the official electoral registry.

Podemos, which was created as an anti-austerity party during Spain’s financial crisis a decade ago – had been holding out until now.

A unified far-left is essential for Sanchez to have any chance of reelection, said Jose Pablo Ferrandiz, a director at polling company Ipsos in Spain.

“It’s a necessary condition – although not sufficient – because the fragmentation in two political formations would prevent them from achieving representation in many constituencies.”

A more likely outcome is that a unified far-left prevents the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the far-right Vox from forming a coalition government, producing a hung parliament and a repeat election, Ferrandiz said.

Spain’s electoral system favours larger parties, handing them a greater proportion of seats, said Andres Medina, director of polling firm Metroscopia. A combination of Sumar and Podemos would get about 12%-13% of votes, Medina said, threshold above which he calculates will guarantee a party a maximum amount of seats relative to its share of the vote.

A poll of polls by El Pais found that if Sumar and Podemos run on separate tickets they would win 26 seats and 3 seats respectively while a unified platform would get them 41 seats in the 350-seat parliament. A party or grouping needs 176 to form a government.

Equality Minister Montero was heavily criticized for a law she sponsored on sex crimes that included a loophole allowing many convicted rapists to get lighter sentences.

Belarra said Podemos would not accept any veto against “a comrade who has pushed the feminist transformation further than anyone else before”, describing her as their “biggest asset”.

She said her party would continue to hold out on signing the paperwork, which must be submitted before midnight on Friday.

“We hope we don’t have to wait until the last minute to register the coalition,” Belarra said. “The agreement can be reached in a very short time if there is a will on the part of Yolanda.”

(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Charlie Devereux; additional reporting by Emma Pinedo, Graham Keeley; editing by Aislinn Laing, Toby Chopra, Angus MacSwan and Marguerita Choy)