Socialists face rebellion at the roots over Rajoy vote

Eva Maldonado González, founder of #MilitantesEnPie grassroots petition. Photo: Mero Barral / El Mundo
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• PSOE rank-and-file, regional leaders in revolt over anticipated abstention vote
• Grassroots petition nets 80% of signatures needed to force party Congress

The administrative caretaker committee currently guiding Spain’s Socialist party (PSOE) is facing a grassroots rebellion from a growing number of party rank-and-file and regional leaders opposed to the PSOE’s anticipated abstention in a congressional vote the last week of October that would place acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) in power for another four years.

PSOE grassroots members around Spain rallying under the moniker of Militantes en Pie (and the social-media hashtag #MilitantesEnPie) have collected some 74,000 signatures of 93,720 required (50 percent of the party’s card-carrying membership) to force the PSOE to hold an “urgent” party Congress to elect a new party leader and reverse the caretaker committee’s drive toward abstention to enable a second Rajoy government.

At the same time that PSOE rank-and-file members around the country have been vocal expressing their anger in regional meetings over the caretaker committee’s drive toward abstention, party leaders in the regional communities of Catalonia, Madrid, Castilla y Leon, the Balearic Islands, Navarre and the Basque Country have continued to call for a “No” vote against Rajoy. In Catalonia, the PSOE’s affiliated Party of Catalan Socialists (PSC) is firmly lined up against a PSOE abstention, with the winner of the PSC leadership contest on Saturday, Miguel Iceta reiterating that whatever the PSOE leadership decides in an 23rd October Federal Committee meeting, the seven PSC deputies in Congress will vote “No” against Rajoy, reflecting the position of 80 percent of PSC rank-and-file members.

The Militantes en Pie petition drive, launched from her kitchen by a party member in Galicia who drew up and circulated petition forms via e-mail, Facebook and WhatsApp, skyrocketed after popular small-town Socialist mayor José Antonio Rodríguez Salas of Jun, near Granada in Andalucia, leveraged his 436,000-follower Twitter account to get out the word.

The movement quickly recruited 242 volunteers from among party activists circulating petitions and collecting signatures via e-mail and at 43 designated drop-off points across Spain and the Militantes en Pie activists say that if the party caretaker committee won’t listen to them once they have the required number of signatures, they will go to court to force the immediate convening of a PSOE Congress.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo, El Confidencial and El País …

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