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POLITICS

Socialists face government crisis in Asturias as key partner breaks away

Single UPyD seat is crucial in split assembly

After a fragile 17-month governing partnership, the Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) centrist party announced on Friday that it was removing its support from the ruling Socialists in Asturias, plunging the northern region into a political crisis. It wasn’t immediately clear whether premier Javier Fernández would be able to continue governing.

Of the 45 seats in the regional parliament, the Socialists (PSOE) hold 17 with the United Left (IU) coalition occupying five seats. On the right, the Asturias Citizens Forum (FAC) and the Popular Party hold 12 and 10 seats respectively. The UPyD’s support was crucial for the Socialists because they and the IU now hold the same number of deputies as the FAC and PP combined.

“From today on, the Socialist government in Asturias is a minority government because the PSOE has preferred to maintain an electoral pact with PP instead of respecting the institutional pact or the one for renewing democracy that it signed with UPyD,” said party leader Rosa Díez during a convention of her grouping.

She explained that the Socialists abandoned their idea of supporting electoral reform — a pledge they made to the IU and UPyD — and instead agreed with the PP to steer clear of the issue.

The local Socialist Party secretary Jesús Gutiérrez denied that his grouping had reneged on its commitment. He said that his party only wants to create a consensus including the PP and FAC.

“There has been no disloyalty, no mockery, and no treachery,” said the secretary general of the Asturias Socialist Federation (FSA-PSOE).