• Socialist leader calls vote as referendum on his refusal to back Rajoy gov’t
• Regional PSOE bosses who want abstention on Rajoy vote in open revolt
The leader of Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE), Pedro Sánchez, threw down the gauntlet to criticis within his own party on Monday, announcing he will call on a PSOE Federal Committee meeting Saturday to back primary elections for the party leadership on October 23rd and then an all-party Congress in early December to ratify the direction of the party set out by him or whoever else may be elected to lead the party.
Sánchez’s announcement on the heels of defeats at the polls for the Socialists in regional elections in Galicia and the Basque Country on Sunday are seen as move by the PSOE leader to halt a virtual open rebellion by party bosses in the regions of Andalucia, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and elsewhere against his policy of refusing to support the bid to return to power and lead Spain’s next government by acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP).
Sánchez also said he will be presenting himself as a candidate in the primaries and campaigning on his refusal to enable Rajoy’s return to office and his efforts to put together an alternative coalition government with any and all other political parties, including the PSOE’s leftwing rival Podemos (We Can). He said he will call on the party’s bases to back his policies by voting to return him as secretary general of the party, thereby uniting the party around a “single voice” in its policies and strategies going forward.
The Socialist “old guard” reacted with condemnation to the Sánchez announcement, with former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, former party general-secretary Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba and others adding their voices to the regional party leaders critical of Sánchez, calling for him to accept responsibility for the defeats in Galicia and the Basque Country and to not launch a party leadership contest while Spanish political parties represented in Congress are in the process of trying to form a new government.
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