Spain’s Socialists and Podemos reach preliminary coalition deal

Spanish acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias shake hands during a news conference at Spain's Parliament in Madrid, Spain, November 12, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 12 November 2019

Spain’s Socialists and Podemos reach preliminary coalition deal

  • Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias will meet at 12:45 GMT, the Socialist party said

MADRID: Spain’s Socialists and far-left Unidas Podemos party agreed on the basis of a coalition government on Tuesday, just two days after a parliamentary election delivered a highly fragmented parliament.
The election — the country’s fourth in four years — left Spain’s parliament even more divided than a previous ballot in April, with the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) retaining its lead but further away from a majority.
“It’s a deal for four years,” Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, who is currently acting prime minister, said after signing the pact alongside Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.
The unexpectedly fast preliminary agreement would require further steps including bringing in smaller parties and agreeing on who gets what position in the cabinet.
If confirmed, it would be Spain’s first coalition government since the country’s return to democracy in the late 1970s.
“Spain needs a stable government, a solid government,” Sanchez said, adding that the deal was open to others.
The combination of the 120 seats obtained by the Socialists and the 35 of Unidas Podemos falls short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament.
The Socialists and Podemos had tried and failed to strike a government deal after the April election, which had prompted Sanchez to call the repeat ballot.
The two men had been at odds for months and exchanged harsh words as acrimonious talks failed after the April election.
On Tuesday they were all smiles, hugging after they signed the pact.
“We’ve reached a preliminary agreement to create a progressive coalition government in Spain, which combines the experience of PSOE with the courage of Unidas Podemos,” Iglesias said.
Local media including La Sexta TV said that Iglesias would be deputy prime minister, something which Sanchez had refused in the post-April election talks. Sanchez had also at the time opposed a coalition government. The two leaders said details would come later and did not comment further.
El Diario newspaper said they would try to get other parties on board, including the market-friendly Ciudadanos, far-left Mas Pais and the Basque nationalist PNV.


Bali’s drugged, smuggled orangutan headed back to the wild

Updated 31 min 28 sec ago

Bali’s drugged, smuggled orangutan headed back to the wild

  • The case made headlines in March when suspicious authorities stopped Russian trafficker Andrei Zhestkov
  • Zhestkov was later sentenced to a year in prison in July

BALI, Indonesia: A baby orangutan that was drugged by a Russian trafficker in a failed bid to smuggle it out of Bali will be released back into the wild.
The case made headlines in March when suspicious authorities on the Indonesian holiday island stopped Andrei Zhestkov, who was flying back to Russia, and opened his luggage to find a two-year-old orangutan sleeping inside a rattan basket.
Zhestkov, sentenced to a year in prison in July, had packed baby formula and blankets for the orangutan. He was also carrying two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase.
On Monday, conservation authorities in Bali rolled out a big fruit plate for fuzzy-haired Bon Bon as he prepares to move to a conservation center in Sumatra — one of just two places where the critically endangered species is found in the wild.
Bon Bon’s caretaker, Ketut Diandika, confessed to being a little bit sad at the ape’s departure.
“I actually want Bon Bon to stay here so that I can still take care of him,” he said.
The Southeast Asian archipelago’s rainforests boast some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world and it is a key source and transit point for animal trafficking.
In a separate case at the weekend, officials in Sumatra’s Riau province said they arrested two men, allegedly part of an international trafficking ring, who were attempting to smuggle four lion cubs and a baby leopard from Africa, along with dozens of tortoises.