Let Spain’s Socialist Party Rebels Spell Out Their Alternative

If they blame Pedro Sánchez for not going into government with the center-right, would they?

Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, answers questions from reporters in Madrid, January 22
Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, answers questions from reporters in Madrid, January 22 (PSOE)

Spain’s Socialist Party is split. Half its executive committee resigned on Wednesday in a bid to oust Pedro Sánchez, the party leader, but Sánchez and his loyalists are pressing ahead with plans for a party congress and leadership election in the autumn in an attempt to demonstrate grassroots support.

Politico argues that the odds are against Sánchez. His party governs in seven of the seventeen Spanish regions and only one of those local leaders backs him. Among his six detractors is Susana Díaz, the popular president of Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and southernmost region and a traditional Socialist Party stronghold.

The Financial Times reports that Sánchez supporters suspect Díaz is behind the plot. She is seen as a potential future leader herself and said to have grown dismayed by Sánchez’ handling of the party — a view that is shared in several important regional branches.

The Atlantic Sentinel reported earlier this month that regional bosses were growing restless and starting to question Sánchez’ refusal to back the right-wing Mariano Rajoy for a third term as prime minister.

Rajoy won the most recent election in June but fell short of an overall majority. He needs the Socialists’ support, or at least their acquiescence, for a mandate to govern or a third election in a year’s time must be held in December.

Sánchez refuses to bring his archrival to power, especially when the far-left Podemos party is breathing down his neck.


The Socialists’ dilemma is the same as it has been for close to a year now: Support the center-right and lose left-wing voters to Podemos or join hands with the far left and lose moderate voters to Rajoy.

Sánchez seems more afraid of the former; the second is a prospect that appalls Díaz and the party grandees.

Except few of them will come out and say the party ought to vote in Rajoy. Which makes their rebellion somewhat exasperating.

Sánchez stuck his neck out in the spring, when — after a similarly inconclusive election in December of last year — he needed Rajoy’s acquiescence for a center-left pact but was rebuffed. Now the roles are reversed and Sánchez is blamed by half his own party, not to mention Rajoy’s, for refusing to support a government he would oppose on policy.

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