New set of PSOE norms consolidates Sánchez leadership

PSOE's Pedro Sánchez addresses Socialist party members in Castellón this week. Photo: EFE via El Mundo
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► Limits placed on power of regional ‘barons’ who ousted party leader in 2016 ►

Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) is set to approve a new set of party statutes on Saturday that will give rank-and-file membership greater input over primary lists and post-election coalitions and centralize the ultimate decision-making power in the hands of the executive leadership team led by the party’s general secretary, Pedro Sánchez.

The 151 pages of statutes set for virtual rubber-stamp approval by the Socialists’ federal committee in Aranjuez on Saturday will also all but remove the influence of regional party “barons” who have traditionally intervened to dictate the party’ direction at key moments of its recent history. Approval of the new charter will consolidate the model for the PSOE laid out by Sánchez in his successful bid to return to power, following his October 2016 ouster in an internal party coup led by regional bosses, including arch-rival Susana Díaz of the powerful PSOE-A regional affiliate party in Andalucia.

Among the key elements of the news statutes are a set of measures aimed at preparing the party for 2019 regional, municipal and European Parliament elections, including a double-primary system that will allow both party members and sympathizers to vote to select candidates for election at all levels, a shorter period for primaries so that candidates are decided upon and fielded early in the election campaigns and an internal set of safeguards to settle disputes in primary election processes.

Also included are strict norms governing the use of social media by PSOE elected officials, a move designed to tamper down internal disputes caused by party officials airing differences via Twitter and other platforms. The regulations also make it harder for the federal committee to oust a party general secretary, requiring a vote of the rank-and-file membership to ratify any ouster of the kind that removed Sánchez from office in 2016.

Spanish reports say that the PSOE’s regional “barons” are ready to accept the new organizational and decision-making model for the party. As evidence they are resigned to the new direction for the party, several — including Díaz — have announced they will not be in attendance Saturday, said to be an unprecedented occurrence for a federal committee meeting of the Socialists.

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