• PSOE leader attempts to make cases to membership for ‘technical abstention’
• Basque and Catalan parties may break ranks and vote ‘No’ against Rajoy
The new caretaker leadership of Spain’s Socialist party under the direction of Asturian President Javier Fernández has begun its drive to convince the party’s membership that a “tactical abstention” to give acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular another four years in office is in the bests interests of the PSOE and the nation.
In an interview Sunday in the newspaper El País, Fernández kicked off the new leadership’s drive to market the merits of a PSOE abstention vote enabling another Rajoy government, denying such a move would represent a triumph of conservative forces within the Socialist party and claiming that ousted PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez’s vision of constructing a left-of-center coalition government as an alternative to Rajoy was illusory.
In a telephone conversation with Rajoy last week, Fernández said he told Rajoy that the PSOE would not make a decision vis a vis the abstention until after a new leader of the PSOE’s Catalan affiliate, the Socialist Party of Catlonia (PSC), is chosen in the regional party’s primary election on Saturday 15th October.
Both the Catalan socialists and their counterparts in the Basque Country, the Socialist Party of Euskadi (PSE) have come out solidly against the abstention vote, with the Basque regional party refusing to appoint a representative to the PSOE’s new caretaker committee. Fernandez has called on all PSOE deputies in Congress to exercise “discipline” and vote however the party decides on the Rajoy abstention, but both the Catalans and the Basques are threatening to break ranks and maintain the line held by Sánchez when he was party leader of voting a firm “No” against another Rajoy government.