Spain’s progressive Podemos party has abandoned the Socialist-led Sumar governing coalition, leaving Prime Minister Sánchez and his fragile Government potentially at risk.
Less than a month after his re-election as Spain’s leader, Sánchez must deal with the decision of the five MPs who make up Podemos to quit the Sumar group in Parliament.
That came after weeks of public disagreements with Sumar’s leader Yolanda Díaz, who is also Deputy Prime Minister.
Podemos gave Díaz no warning of its intentions. She found out about the decision during a debate in the Spanish Chamber.
Ione Belarra, the secretary general of Podemos and former social rights minister until Sánchez took office, said Sumar had left her party “with no other choice” than to quit.
Other party representatives added that Belarra “has done everything possible from within Sumar’s Group, but it [remaining] has been rendered impossible”.
According to the party, this decision will let Podemos advance the “ambitious and courageous policies Spain needs”.
Podemos will now form part of the so-called “Mixed” group in Parliament along with other small regional parties of Galicia, Navarre and the Canary Islands. That is likely to provide it with more funding.
Given the current splits in Congress and Sánchez’s struggles to secure a majority, the five Podemos MPs could tip the scales on whether the coalition Government survives or not.
Podemos, along with the representatives of the right-wing parties, could potentially topple Sánchez with a vote of no-confidence, observers say.
Perhaps in light of that, Belarra told Sánchez’s Socialist Party (PSOE) that Podemos would not jeopardise the stability of the new Government, as long as the PSOE was willing to negotiate with it “bilaterally”.
Díaz warned Podemos to not regard Sumar as “an opponent”.
Sánchez’s did not include any Podemos members as ministers in his Government. That was as a concession to Díaz, observers say.
Alongside former minister Belarra, fellow Podemos member Irene Montero was previously the former, controversial, equality minister.
She pushed a bill in Congress that sought to enable multiple sex offenders to be released from prison. The proposed law has since been modified by the PSOE with the help of the centre-right Partido Popular (PP).
The Sumar coalition is built of several left-wing and progressive parties.
Más País, one of them, labelled the Podemos decision “treasonous”. It also demanded Belarra resign as an MP.
Podemos first began to see its political momentum stall with its lacklustre performance in May’s municipal and regional elections.
It lost all representation in the City Council of the capital Madrid and in the regional parliament of the Community of Madrid.
Then, in July’s Spanish general elections, the party went from having 33 seats in Congress to just the five who remain for the new legislative term.