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Spain's Podemos accepts key condition for coalition deal with Socialists

MADRID (Reuters) - The leader of Spain’s far-left Podemos party said on Friday he was willing to give up having a post in a coalition government, potentially opening a way out of stalled power-sharing talks with acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists.

FILE PHOTO: Spain's acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez greets Unidas Podemos' (Together We Can) leader Pablo Iglesias at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Juan Medina

Sanchez, who won the most seats but fell short of a majority in a parliamentary election in April, hopes to be sworn in as prime minister in a parliamentary vote next week and even with Podemos’s support he will still needs some extra votes from other parties.

If he loses the vote, a two-month countdown will begin until a new election is held.

On Thursday Sanchez ruled out having Podemos’ leader Pablo Iglesias in his cabinet, citing differences on issues including how to handle Catalonia’s independence drive. Sanchez said he had offered to include other qualified people from Podemos as requested by that party.

Podemos accepted Sanchez’s condition on Friday.

“I shouldn’t be the excuse for the Socialists to justify why there will be no coalition of the left. Whether I’m in the cabinet or not will not be a problem as long as there are no more vetos and Podemos’ presence in the government reflects the votes we have won,” Iglesias said on Twitter.

After Iglesias’ announcement, Socialist sources said a potential deal between the two parties was possible but stressed that Sanchez would be the one to pick his government team.

“Without vetoes or impositions we can reach an agreement. The prime minister will listen to proposals and will decide the team. Let’s start with the content. First, the program and afterwards the government,” one of the sources said.

An alliance of the Socialists with Podemos, their most natural political ally, would bring Sanchez almost within touching distance of the parliamentary majority he needs.

Podemos wants some key ministerial portfolios in any coalition government, but Sanchez has offered only lower-ranking posts.

Reporting by Sam Edwards, Belen Carreno, Joan Faus; Editing by Gareth Jones; Editing by Frances Kerry and Gareth Jones