Spain’s Ciudadanos says it will play responsible role as opposition

April 30, 2019

MADRID (Reuters) – The leader of the Ciudadanos party, Spain’s third-biggest after Sunday’s national election, said on Tuesday he would not block major international or terrorism-related legislation in parliament.

Albert Rivera, whose party won 57 seats in the 350-seat parliament, a substantial jump from the 32 it had in the previous legislature, is jockeying with the conservative People’s Party leader Pablo Casado, whose party lost more than half its seats to 66, over who will be leader of the opposition.

Immediately after the election results, Rivera ruled out forming a coalition with the Socialists, a deal many in the business and financial would welcome. He repeated on Tuesday he would be in the opposition.

“On issues of terrorism, on issues of Europe and international politics, on state issues, I am going to play for Spain,” Rivera told Telecinco television.

The opposition will play a responsible role, he added.

The Socialists of incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez won most seats without securing a majority and are now pondering options on how to form a government. That will take time and not much is likely to be known before EU, local and regional elections on May 26.

On paper, the Socialists and Ciudadanos would together have enough seats to rule together but they have both, for now, rejected it. Relations between Rivera and Sanchez were particularly tense during the campaign.

Jose Luis Abalos, a high-ranking Socialist, said on Monday that Rivera had not phoned Sanchez to congratulate him on his victory. Ciudadanos later said that Rivera had congratulated Sanchez publicly in a Sunday evening speech and had sent him a message on Monday.

(Reporting by Sabela Ojea; Additional reporting by Belen Carreno; Writing by Ingrid Melander, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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