The re-housing of 17 squatter families who had been evicted early last week from a building called La Utopía in Seville sparked a 48-hour-long crisis in the Junta de Andalucia's coalition government.
Socialist Premier Susana Diaz decided the families could not be allowed to jump the queue of around 12,000 families who are on the waiting list for subsidised housing and took the housing portfolio away from coalition partner, the Communist-dominated United Left (UI, Izquierda Unida). The UI threatened to leave the coalition, which would have forced Diaz to call early elections two years ahead of time.
IU national coordinator Cayo Lara flew in from Madrid to support his party during tense talks between the two partners, which ended with Diaz backing down and handing the housing portfolio back to the IU.
By that time, only eight families had been re-housed and the IU agreed that the other nine families should join the waiting list.
Both parties claimed their alliance had not been damaged but one Socialist highlighted the mistrust inherent in the coalition when he said: “It’s not a question of eight families, but rather the concept, the values. Andalusia is not Venezuela, and we can’t let anyone who bangs on the door just walk away with a new house.”
He was referring to a recent statement by IU leader Diego Valderas, who is deputy premier, that it would wonderful if Venezuela's brand of 21st century socialism could be implanted in Andalusia.
Other areas of disagreement include the radical anti-eviction law approved last September but paralysed by the Constitutional Court, and the plan to pay the light and water bills of the region's poorest families.
The Land Bank is another IU project by which land standing idle would be given to the unemployed. The IU is also trying to push a new tax law through the regional parliament which would introduce a huge tax hike for the region's richest families.
The Socialists do not agree wholeheartedly with these proposals but have to go along with them to keep the coalition together.