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Spain’s Socialist PM backs alliance between two leftist parties

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MADRID (Reuters) – An alliance between Spain’s main far-left parties Sumar and Podemos will be “more than positive” to help win next month’s election, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday.

Podemos, the junior partner in the coalition government with Sanchez’s Socialist party, announced on Friday it will join forces with Sumar and a series of small regional parties for the election on July 23.

Sanchez called a snap election after his Socialist party and Podemos performed worse than expected in local elections last month, losing ground to right-wing parties.

Analysts said a unified far-left is essential for Sanchez to have any chance of re-election.

Sanchez told a meeting of party supporters in Madrid on Saturday that the Sumar-Podemos deal was “more than positive”, adding that “unity is the first proof of responsibility”.

Yolanda Diaz, the labour minister and Sumar leader, told a meeting of party followers in Madrid on Saturday that the alliance with Podemos offered hope for the election.

One stumbling block between Podemos and Sumar had been Sumar’s opposition to Equality Minister Irene Montero, a leading figure in Podemos, who was left out of election lists for next month’s poll.

Montero has faced criticism in recent months over her flagship sexual consent law that included a loophole which has allowed 1,127 sentences to be reduced and 115 sex offenders to leave jail early, according to the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary.

A unified far-left is essential for Sanchez to have anychance of reelection, Jose Pablo Ferrandiz, a director atpolling company Ipsos in Spain, told Reuters on Friday.

A more likely outcome is that a unified far-left preventsthe conservative People’s Party and the far-right Vox fromforming a coalition government, producing a hung parliament anda repeat election, Ferrandiz said.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Additional reporting by Juan Medina and Michael Gore; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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