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 their plan to call 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 Spain’s seventeen regions, and only one regional leader backs him.
Among his six detractors is Susana Díaz, the popular president of Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and southernmost region and a Socialist Party stronghold.
The Financial Times reports that Sánchez’ supporters suspect Díaz is behind the plot. She is seen as a potential future leader and is said to have grown dismayed by Sánchez’ handling of the party — a view that is shared in several 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 votes in the election in June, the second in a year, but fell short of a majority. He needs the Socialists’ support, or at least their acquiescence, for a mandate to govern. The alternative is calling yet another election.
Sánchez refuses to bring his archrival to power, especially when the far-left Podemos (We Can) party is breathing down his neck.
The Socialists’ dilemma is unchanged from a year ago: 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 worries about the former; Díaz and many party grandees are more worried about the latter.
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 — 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 substance.
With friends like these…