Internecine warfare, holding on by one’s fingertips and, just a fortnight ago, a crucial vote.
Lots of people have been accessing Who Rules Spain? Erm…. recently which has prompted the question in the title of this article. My last post on Spanish politics was in November, with the Partido Popular forming a minority government and PSOE, the established party of the centre left, tearing itself apart.
PSOE only just held on to its second place in the General Election of 2016, just above Podemos, the new party of the left. Since then its leader, Pedro Sanchez, has been forced to resign in a palace coup, led by his arch-rival and former mentor, Susana Diaz. The primaries began in May to select a replacement. And guess what, the recently resigned Sanchez stood, as did Diaz.
After some tense moments a winner emerged, with well over 50% of the vote. It was Sanchez, who is reinstated as Secretary General, vindicated.
The challenge for him will be to be able form the equivalent of a shadow cabinet which both reflects his own views and represents the whole of the party. It was largely the old party ‘barons’ and the heads of the regions who ousted him in the first place.
The 39th Federal Congress of PSOE meets between 16th and 18th of June to vote for a new ‘top team’ and to set strategy for the party. Already there is speculation that PSOE will move much closer to the other party of the left, Podemos, though Sanchez has been dampening down any such rumours.
Political parties of the left seem, on the surface at least, to suffer internal battles more than political parties of the right (‘though don’t mention UKIP, their manifesto newly launched for the UK General Election, where fisticuffs seems to proliferate)? Is this just the reporting of a hostile, predominantly right-leaning media which seeks to exploit any divisions in left leaning parties? Or is it that folk on the left cling more readily to principles and ideals, so there are more ideological differences and they fight more personally. After all, the default position for many Tories, especially before Margaret Thatcher and the rise of neo-liberal ideologues, was simply to get power. That used to be the driving principle.
And now in Spain?
Well, assuming that Sanchez can form a team he wants and get allies in Parliament he can make life very difficult for the ruling PP. There is a school of thought that says the PP and Rajoy might call a snap election to exploit the disarray of PSOE. But that would mean the Spanish electorate going to the polls three times in two years!
This would undoubtedly appear opportunistic and election fatigue might set in, but the PP vote has held solid in the last two elections, so Rajoy may calculate that it will hold again, with the recent travails of the left playing very badly. The turnout for PSOE and Podemos went down last time around. Ho hum, watch this space…..