PSOE battle lines drawn on historic decision Sunday

PSC’s Miguel Iceta & PSOE-A’s Susana Díaz. Photos: Elisenda Pons, Miguel Ángel Molina / El Periódico
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• Socialists’ to decide Sunday whether to abstain or block Rajoy return to office
• PSOE-Andalucia and PSC at odds in historic vote that will impact party’s future

The battle lines are clearly drawn for the meeting on Sunday of the Federal Committee of the Socialist party (PSOE), which will determine how the party’s 85 deputies in Congress cast their ballots in the anticipated investiture vote that will enable or deny a bid by acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) to form Spain’s next government.

On Tuesday , the PSOE’s powerful Andalucian affiliate party (PSOE-A) broke its silence and despite opposition from the regional rank and file membership enunciated what was perhaps Spain’s worst-kept secret, that the PSOE-A deputies in Congress would follow the wishes of Andalucian Socialist President Susana Diaz and abstain from voting in order to allow Rajoy to take office.

The Andalucian announcement comes in the wake of newly re-elected Catalan Socialists’ Party (PSC) general secretary Miguel Iceta’s having repeatedly stated that the PSC deputies in Congress would break ranks with the PSOE interim caretaker leadership and vote ‘No’ to Rajoy’s candidacy, a position shared by several other regional leaders and a growing grassroots movement of PSOE activists nationwide.

Should the PSOE decide Sunday to abstain en bloc or should Socialists reach an internal compromise that would allow a “technical abstention” in which at least 12 PSOE deputies would refrain from voting, Rajoy’s bid to return to office as the next Prime Minister would succeed through a simple majority vote. Under Spanish law, that vote must take place no later than Sunday 31st October, so following the PSOE decision this Sunday the legislative clock will be ticking.

First, Spanish head of state King Felipe VI must assemble party leaders on Monday and Tuesday and then ask Rajoy to present his candidacy, then an investiture debate must be held, followed a vote of the 350 Deputies representing all parties in Congress. If no candidate is selected by 31st October, Congress will be dissolved and Spaniards will be forced to return to the polls for a record third general election within the past 12 months in order to cast their ballots yet again toward the formation of a new government.

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

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