• Socialist PM Zapatero’s austerity cuts angered voters, began slide in support
• Labour leader fears PSOE crisis could trigger ‘long rightwing cycle’ in politics
The general secretary of Spain’s largest labour federation, the Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), or “Workers’ Commissions”, has weighed in on the crisis within the Socialist party (PSOE) that saw ouster of PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez earlier this month, saying the Socialists’ problems are not new but date to 2010, when Spain’s then-President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero mistakenly introduced draconian austerity measures rather than accepting political responsibility for mishandling the country’s economic crisis and presenting his resignation.
Ignacio Fernández Toxo, who has been at the helm of the CCOO since 2008, said that the response by Zapatero’s Socialist administration of simply trying to overlay “corrective” measures on a neoliberal austerity programme that was failing throughout Europe was mistaken and led in large part to the loss of credibility among Spanish voters that has resulted in the PSOE’s repeated poor showings at the ballot box since 2010 and has contributed to the party’s current internal divisions and loss of direction.
Toxo said he fears that the PSOE crisis may mark the beginning of a “long rightwing cycle” in Spanish politics. Despite the Socialists’ 137-year history in Spain, he said the party is clearly at risk of losing its relevance because Spanish society “has changed so much that people may well look to other (political) options,” including the PSOE’s leftwing rival Podemos (We Can), which he said has been more successful at channeling public anger over the austerity measures introduced under Zapatero and his successor, current acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular.