Podemos unapologetically cozying up to the Polisario Front may raise questions about the status of Madrid-Rabat relations under Spain’s current governing coalition.
Rabat – Unidas Podemos, a left-wing populist party in Spain, received a delegation from the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on Friday, February 21.
The Polisario delegation included SADR’s “Minister of Social Affairs,” Suelma Beiruk.
Spain’s Secretary of State for Social Rights and Podemos’ Secretary of Economy, Nacho Alvarez, led the meeting.
“We have expressed our commitment to continue cooperating in helping people with disabilities and our solidarity with the Saharawi people,” the official account of the Secretary of State for Social Rights noted on Twitter.
The same account shared photos from the meeting on Friday but deleted them, along with the statement of solidarity, this afternoon.
Podemos, the fourth-largest political party in Spain, has been pro-Polisario since its founding in 2014.
During Spain’s spring 2019 elections, Podemos vowed to recognize the self-proclaimed SADR if they won a majority in parliament. The party also called for the Spanish government to establish diplomatic ties with the entity in the hopes of allowing Saharawi residents into Spain in the future.
Podemos’ electoral platform also urged the extension of the mandate of MINURSO, the UN peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara.
The party currently holds 26 seats in the lower house of the Spanish parliament and has no seats in the upper house.
As part of Spain’s coalition government, led by Pedro Sanchez, Podemos’ reception of the Polisario delegation and its explicit opposition to Morocco’s sovereignty is very likely to raise eyebrows in Rabat.
The news also comes at a particularly sensitive juncture for Morocco-Spain relations, with the two countries striving to maintain their “special” alliance amid perceptible disagreements over maritime borders.
When Morocco voted on January 23 to extend its maritime borders in the Atlantic off the coast of Western Sahara—near Spain’s Canary Islands—the two countries seemed to be nearing a diplomatic stand-off.
The Spanish government shared its frustration, emphasizing that the move should not be formalized without negotiations with Spain.
Morocco’s government, however, is certain that the move is within its sovereignty rights and does not need approval from Spain.
However, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya, who arrived in Rabat the day after the vote, attempted to put to rest reports of a discernible, growing rift between Rabat and Madrid.
At a joint press conference during her Moroccan visit, Laya and Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita affirmed that Spain and Morocco will reach an agreement on the demarcation of their maritime borders through dialogue. They both expressed their determination to boost diplomatic ties and strengthen bilateral cooperation.
Following the talks in Rabat, King Felipe VI of Spain underlined the excellent friendship between the two countries, noting the enormous potential for bilateral cooperation in a speech on February 6.
Ultimately, political tension did not swell between Morocco and Spain as a result of Morocco’s maritime vote.
However, Podemos unapologetically cozying up to the Polisario Front may raise questions about the status of Madrid-Rabat relations under Spain’s current coalition government.