• Under pressure, party leader says ‘No’ to Podemos over Catalonia vote
• Regional leaders push for annual party conference, possible primary battle
Following the Socialist party’s lackluster results in Spain’s Dec. 20th general elections, PSOE party leader Pedro Sánchez has come under fire and reportedly faces strong opposition from PSOE regional party leaders to his continued leadership of the party.
On election night, Sánchez announced his determination to continue at the helm of the PSOE, despite the poorest general election results in the party’s history, But, during a party leadership conclave on Monday, Sánchez ran into opposition from party leaders who want to hold the annual PSOE conference at which the Socialists’ leader is decided, as originally scheduled in February or March.
That would open the door to a possible primary election challenge to Sánchez’s leadership even as he is struggling to put together a possible coalition of parties to oust the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP) or face a rerun of the general elections as early as mid-March.
Among the PSOE regional leaders reportedly pushing for the party conference before new general elections are Susana Díaz, president of Andalusia; Javier Fernández, president of Asturias; Ximo Puig, of Valencia; Emiliano García-Page, of Castilla-La Mancha; and, Guillermo Fernandez Vara, president of Extremadura.
Pressured by PSOE’s regional leaders, Sánchez already has ruled out a coalition with the anti-austerity Podemos party as long as Podemos’ leader Pablo Iglesias continues to insist on PSOE support for a referendum over independence for Catalonia – something which Sánchez said constitutes an affront to the “territorial integrity” of Spain as a whole.