Spain’s main opposition leader snubs invite to meet from Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

THE LEADER of Spain’s main opposition Partido Popular (PP), Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, has snubbed an invite for a meeting extended by the prime minister, Pedro Sanchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE). 

It was two weeks ago that Sanchez, who was voted back into power by lawmakers in November after the inconclusive July 23 election, announced his intention to meet with Feijoo before the end of the year.

The government suggested December 18, 22 or 29, but so far Feijoo has refused to confirm any one of these dates. 

The prime minister is governing in a minority and needs the support of his coalition partner, leftist alliance Sumar, as well as a series of smaller parties in order to pass legislation. 

The aim of the meeting with Feijoo is to seek a cross-party agreement to renew the members of the country’s legal watchdog, the CGPJ. The mandate of the CGPJ expired five years ago, but the PP has been refusing to agree on candidates for its renewal, causing a long-running political stalemate.

Sanchez also wants to discuss a reform to the Spanish Constitution to eliminate the word ‘disminuidos’ (meaning ‘physically handicapped’) from the text, as well as to discuss a new model for regional financing, according to Spanish news agency Europa Press.

The PP has since claimed that it found out about the planned topics for discussion via media reports, and has demanded to have them in writing so that the party can add more. 

The government has reportedly refused this for now, stating that Feijoo can raise whatever issues he deems necessary during the meeting. 

The standoff will only serve to deepen the already highly charged political atmosphere in Spain. The PP has been organising a series of protests against the Socialists in recent months, after Sanchez did an amnesty deal with two Catalan separatist parties in return for their support at his investiture vote.

Borja Semper, the PP spokesperson, on Monday called the government’s approach to the meeting as ‘shameful’ and ‘institutional discourtesy’.

On Sunday, the PSOE called Feijoo a ‘leader of the opposition on the run’ for letting the first date pass. 

The PP, meanwhile, has been briefing that the Socialists are seeking the meeting in order to distract attention from a motion of no confidence agreed by the PSOE in the northern city of Pamplona, and which will see a councilor from the EH Bildu party become mayor. 

The deal is a controversial one given EH Bildu’s historical links to the now-defunct terrorist group ETA. On Sunday around 10,000 people came out on the streets of Pamplona, in the Navarra region, to protest the agreement. 

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