Start of the race for the leadership of the Spanish Socialist Party

The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) has announced that the primary election for the party’s general secretary will take place on May 21. Candidates will need to be endorsed by at least 5% of the party’s 180,000 members by May 4.

The PSOE has been leaderless since October, when an internal coup orchestrated by a cabal of bankers, intelligence services and the media overthrew Secretary General Pedro Sánchez. Organized by former PSOE Prime Minister Felipe González and El País editor-in-chief Juan Luis Cebrián, the aim was to install a People’s Party (PP) government after Spain had been without an administration of its own for almost 10 months, which was opposed by the Sánchez faction of the PSOE.

The coup exposed the reactionary workings of the political system that emerged from Spain’s transition to parliamentary rule in 1978, following the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco.

As the World Socialist Website noted: “The putsch laid bare the class forces served by the PSOE and the Spanish political system. He showed how capitalist politicians, the media and the state machine ruthlessly obey the orders of the banks, corporations and major imperialist powers. If the elections don’t produce the desired outcome – in this case, a right-wing government with austerity, attacks on democratic rights and preparations for war – they simply impose it. To do this, they are quite willing to discard small fry like Sánchez.

The coup, however, did not resolve the crisis of bourgeois rule. The minority PP government, supported by just over a third of parliament, is weak and unpopular. Moreover, he is embroiled in one corruption scandal after another, implementing savage austerity measures, dramatically increasing the military budget and is divided on whether to move towards Berlin and the European Union or the United States under Trump’s aggressively nationalist and protectionist administration. To pass laws, the PP government depends on the direct support of the PSOE in parliament.

The question currently being debated between the main contenders for the PSOE leadership race – the ousted former PSOE leader Sánchez and the current Prime Minister of Andalusia, Susana Díaz – is whether the PSOE should continue to support the government. minority of the PP, or if the PSOE should dress up as a “left” alternative by allying itself with the pseudo-left Podemos in view of a possible collapse of the PP.

Although the two candidates have called for unity, the differences are such that they threaten to split the party. Fabio Balboni, economist at HSBC, said: “Depending on who wins, we could see a shift of the party to the left (Pedro Sánchez) or to the center (Susana Díaz), with the risk of a possible split in the party and, in particularly in the first case, a firmer opposition to the minority government of the PP.

Díaz is the clear favorite of the ruling class, with the backing of virtually all the media, the backing of the PSOE Interim Committee (supposedly a neutral body in the power struggle), former PSOE prime ministers, including his mentor González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and dozens of former ministers and regional prime ministers.

In the coup against Sánchez, she played the main role attacking him, defending an abstention to allow the PP to come to power for “the good of Spain”.

Díaz accused Sánchez of being Podemos’ lackey at the PSOE, saying that if he wins, the PSOE will be handed over to Podemos: “It’s one thing to make pacts and another to give yourself to someone another or even to imitate him”. Diaz said at a rally. She vowed to “fight against… populism [i.e., Podemos] and regional separatism.

The Sánchez faction calculates that the survival of the PSOE depends on the incorporation of pseudo-left Podemos into a PSOE-led “left alliance” government – ​​as it had attempted to do before the coup against him – in order to control the operation. to classify. He also called for “unity of action” with the unions and other “left” forces.

Sánchez represents factions of the ruling class who fear that the PSOE, one of the pillars of the post-Franco era, will be destroyed – just like its social democratic equivalents in Greece, PASOK and in France, the Socialist Party (PS) – if he continues his support for the PP. The PSOE has already suffered disastrous results in national elections, falling from 44% of the popular vote in 2008 to its current 22%.

Sánchez made this clear in a recent interview when he said, “I am particularly concerned about the lack of trust that exists between our members and some of the management. And I think our project can humbly repair these wounds. It can rebuild lost unity between activists and leaders, and also lost credibility for our constituents.

Díaz opposes an alliance with Podemos, despite his sharp shift to the right; lest such an alliance serve yet again to stir up left-wing anti-capitalist sentiments in wider sections of the population that neither the PSOE nor Podemos would be able to control. She even tried to use the disastrous results of the French counterparts of the PSOE in the presidential elections of April 23 as an example of failure resulting from the adoption of “radical policies”!

Díaz said: “We should learn from this [the French Socialist Party’s results]when radical positions are taken, people punish us, move away from us.

Díaz omitted any mention that the collapse of the Socialist Party (PS) in France, with its presidential candidate Benoît Hamon winning just over 6% of the vote, was due to the hatred engendered by the government’s austerity measures. current PS government, warmongering and attacks on democratic rights. The PSOE’s own pro-austerity record includes the program implemented by its regional government in Andalusia, one of the poorest regions in Spain, with the second highest unemployment rate at 28%.

Sánchez is in no position to attack his enemies’ austerity measures or those previously implemented by PSOE governments – voting for them as a parliamentarian in 2009-2011.

Sánchez and Díaz are also squabbling over how to deal with the nationalist forces that control the Catalonia region, one of the wealthiest in Spain, who have pledged to hold an independence referendum this year, illegal in under the Spanish constitution.

Díaz is a hardliner. She publicly declared: “There will be no referendum” because “it is against the law” – the same position as the PP government. Sánchez, on the contrary, forbids making symbolic concessions, such as the recognition of Catalonia as a “nation” in the country’s constitution. Sánchez also defended the federalist proposal of the Catalan Socialist Party, brother of the PSOE.

Regardless of the differences, both candidates agree that the minority PP government should stay in power for as long as possible. Last month, Sánchez said in an interview, “We can say no to Rajoy without needing to propose a vote of no confidence”, and that “we cannot call new elections again”.

Last week he described the no-confidence proposal, presented by Podemos in parliament due to the PP’s latest corruption scandals, as having “no sense” and called on Rajoy to step down to save his government.

Podemos called for support for Sánchez. Its leader Pablo Iglesias said he would aim to negotiate with the PSOE to form a government, saying: “If you are in politics, it is to govern”.

Podemos’ vote of no confidence, impossible to win without the support of the PSOE, which called Podemos’ move “irresponsible fireworks”, is also aimed at exposing the PSOE’s pro-PP line, while strengthening positions de Sánchez in the PSOE to pave his own way to government on behalf of Spanish capital.

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