Sánchez to boot ‘Barons’ from Socialist party leadership

Pedro Sanchez (center) with campaign co-chairs Adriana Lastra & José Luis Ábalos: Photo: José Luis Roca / El Periódico
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• New PSOE chief will exclude regional party bosses from leadership team
• Sánchez taps campaign co-chair, Valencian ally Ábalos as Congress spokesman

On his first day back in Socialist party (PSOE) headquarters, newly re-elected PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez made clear Wednesday that he will not be including any of the party’s regional leaders, known colloquially in Spain as the party ‘Barons’, in the new PSOE executive leadership team that will take office following his formal installation as secretary general at the upcoming party congress slated for mid-June.

The decision made public to reporters at the Socialist’s national party headquarters in Madrid stands in sharp contrast to the leadership team assembled by Sánchez following his first election to the party’s top post in 2014. At that time, Sánchez named 10 regional party leaders to the top leadership team in order to bolster his relatively weak political position, including several among 17 members of the PSOE leadership team who last year pulled their support from Sánchez in the run-up to the October Federal Committee meeting at which he was ousted in an internal leadership coup.

Having beaten PSOE leadership rival and Andalucia regional president Susana Díaz in Sunday’s election in every single region in Spain save Díaz’s own Andalucian stronghold, Sanchez has called for proportional representation based on Sunday’s vote in selection of the delegates being sent from each region to the mid-June Congress. The party conclave will formally install Sánchez as party leader and ratify his new leadership team, which said will broadly represent all generations of party militants and include parity representation of women and men among the new party leaders.

Among the regional Barons most notably excluded from the Sánchez leadership team this time around will be regional party bosses Emiliano García-Page of Castilla-La Mancha and Ximo Puig of Valencia, both of whom supported Susana Díaz in the leadership race.  Spelling possible trouble for Puig down the road, Sánchez on Wednesday also named as temporary PSOE spokesman in the Congress of Deputies his campaign co-chair José Luis Ábalos, a staunch ally in the resistance to the PSOE abstention vote that enabled a return to power by Mariano Rajoy of the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP), for which Ábalos was subsequently sanctioned by the interim PSOE leadership.

Ábalos is a federal Deputy from Valencia and leader of the Socialists in the province and city of Valencia, where Sánchez won 68.23 percent of the leadership vote against just 24.95 percent for rival Díaz. The margin of victory for Sánchez in metropolitan Valencia was even greater than the 63.07 percent to 28.22 percent by which he bested Díaz across the entire Valencia region, where regional party leader Puig governs tenuously in a minority position propped up through an alliance with Valencia’s Coalició Compromís (Commitment Coalition) and the regional affiliate of national anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can).

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

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