• PSOE leader fails in bid to have members decide leadership, party’s direction
• Party now led by committee, likely to abstain to enable Rajoy government
Regional political ‘barons’ and the old guard within Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) succeded late Saturday in ousting Pedro Sánchez as party leader a 132-107 vote of the PSOE’s Federal Committee, following more than 10 hours of maneuvering and heated exchanges both within the committee meeting and outside on the street, where Sánchez supporters hurled insults at leaders of the party coup and shouted slogans supporting his refusal to enable acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) to form the next government.
Sánchez’s gambit to stay in power by challenging his party to either back his refusal to lend Socialist votes to enable a PP government or to defeat him in a snap primary election for the PSOE leadership went down to defeat after regional party bosses spearheaded by Andalucian president Susana Díaz launched an all-out assault last week to block his call for a late-October leadership election, followed by a party Congress to ratify the new leader’s mandate in early November.
The move by Díaz and other regional party barons from Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Valencia and elsewhere gained support of former PSOE leaders Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Felipe Gónzalez and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero – the later two former Spanish Presidents.
Despite vocal support for Sánchez from the Socialist leaders of nine other Spanish regions, the leader of the powerful Andalucian Socialist party and her allies prevailed, convincing a majority of Federal Committee members to vote against Sánchez and instead opt to put the party into administrative receivership until a date for new leadership elections could be agreed. Sánchez immediately resigned as party leader following the ballot results.