Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Socialist (PSOE) party, and Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Podemos party, presented their coalition agreement on Monday, still hoping to formally establish the new government as early as 5 January.
The full document Coalición progresista. Un nuevo acuerdo para España (Progressive coalition. A new deal for Spain) officially presented by the two party leaders, aims primarily to impose a higher tax on the wealthy and to also repeal a number of labour reforms.
Pedro Sánchez had reached an agreement earlier on Monday with Andoni Ortuzar, president of the Basque PNV nationalist party, before appearing with Pablo Iglesias in the afternoon to present the PSOE-Podemos agreement.
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However, it remains to be seen whether the Catalan pro-independence Esquerra Republicana (ERC) party will agree to abstain and thus allow Sánchez’s bid in the Spanish Congress to succeed.
It is still not clear whether Monday’s statement by Spain’s Attorney General office recommending that the Supreme Court should release the head of the ERC party, the jailed Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras, in order to collect his credentials as an MEP, is enough to placate the ERC group.
The PSOE’s 120 seats from the 10 November general election, combined with the 35 won by the left-wing Podemos party, has left them short of the majority in the 350-seat Spanish Congress. The re-election of Sánchez as prime minister is therefore in the hands of ERC’s 13 MPs, as well as other smaller political groups.
Talks between Sánchez’s PSOE party and ERC have been going on for weeks, although the Catalan pro-independence party has said that it will not convene a meeting of its National Council to make a final decision on its position before the end of the year.
The ERC leadership will, however, meet beforehand to evaluate Sánchez and Iglesias’ plans for a coalition government to consider the document’s stated commitment to ‘tackle the Catalan political conflict’ through ‘dialogue, negotiation and agreement.’
Catalonia also appears in the document in the section devoted to Spain’s autonomous communities, where it makes a pledge to devolve all powers that have not yet been transferred to the Catalan government, such as university grants or health training.
In general, the coalition plans foresee raising income tax on wealthier earners, with an extra 2% on salaries over 130,000 euros and 4% on those over 300,000 euros, while also freezing the tax rate for large firms at 15% and raising it to 18% for fossil fuel companies.
PSOE and Podemos also want to raise the minimum wage, to recover ‘the labour rights snatched away’ by the 2012 reforms of the former right wing People’s Party (PP) government, as well as to place a cap on ‘abusive’ increases in rents.