Podemos (We Can) leader Pablo Iglesias (L) and Izquierda Unida (United Left) leader Alberto Garzon pose before their meeting at the Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Andrea Comas(reuters_tickers)
MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos opened the door on Wednesday to running on a joint platform with a former communist movement if a follow-up national election is called, in a bid to become the country's biggest leftwing political force.
Spain has been in political limbo since elections in December ended inconclusively, stripping the centre-right People's Party (PP) of its majority in parliament and leaving it and other parties struggling to form a viable coalition.
An election alliance between Podemos ("We Can"), which came third in December, and smaller Izquierda Unida (IU, or "United Left"), would be a potential gamechanger in a re-run.
Podemos, founded around two years ago, won backing from 20.6 percent of the electorate, with just over 5 million votes.
Supplemented by the close to 1 million votes that went to IU, it would have overtaken the Socialists, Spain's traditional leftwing party which had alternated in power with the PP since the country emerged from Francisco Franco's dictatorship in the mid-1970s.
Podemos, led by telegenic political scientist Pablo Iglesias and which last year turned down an earlier invitation to run alongside IU, said on Wednesday no alliance had been agreed with the former communist party, headed by 30-year-old Alberto Garzon.
"(But) we're prepared to talk and to explore such a possibility so that if there is a repeat election we can pull together more people," a Podemos spokeswoman said.
Parties are due to hold more talks with King Felipe next week to try to form a government ahead of a May 2 deadline. Thereafter a new election would be triggered, most likely on June 26.
The Socialist party has been trying to persuade rivals including Podemos to back a coalition pact with centrist Ciudadanos ("Citizens"), another newcomer party. Podemos has rejected this option, supporting the idea of a leftist alliance instead.
A new ballot would be likely to deliver a similar outcome to the December vote, opinion polls show.
(Reporting by Sarah White and Julien Toyer; editing by John Stonestreet)