Sánchez seeks alliances to dismantle PP grip on power

PSOE's Pedro Sánchez speaks at closing of PSOE's 39th party congress. Photo: EFE via Público
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• Socialist calls on parties in Congress to join in dismantling ‘retrograde’ PP laws
• Stressing PSOE return to left roots, Sánchez seeks 15-M movement support

Newly re-elected Socialist party (PSOE) secretary general Pedro Sánchez said Sunday that in the absence of a three-way governing pact with leftwing rival Podemos (We Can) and the centre-right Ciudadanos party, he will seek to form a legislative coalition of parties in Congress to systematically dismantle anti-austerity legislation and other laws passed unilaterally since 2011 by the conservative Partido Popular (PP) of Spanish President Mariano Rajoy.

Speaking to a packed auditorium of more than 5,000 rank-and-file PSOE activists, Sánchez closed the Socialists’ 39th party congress with a 45-minute speech in which he pledged to immediately begin conversations with both Podemos and Ciudadanos, though he cautioned he is not optimistic about a governing pact because of the two parties continued refusal to work together to unseat the Rajoy government. Barring that option, he said, “the PP does not have an absolute majority. We can reverse many of the retrograde laws together … We propose to open a space for negotiation and agreement with the rest of the forces of change in Parliament to dismantle the legislative action of the PP.”

In keeping with the leftwing discourse of the leadership campaign that returned him to power following his ouster in an internal leadership coup last October, Sánchez stressed that the PSOE is the only party on the left of Spain’s political spectrum capable of defeating Rajoy’s PP and called on the party to return to its leftwing roots as it moves forward.  In a message directed at the party militants who supported his re-election bid, Sánchez pledged that as long as he remains PSOE secretary general, the party will follow the path urged by the late-Catalan Socialist leader Carme Chacón: “If we say left, we will be left; and if we say change, we will be the change.”

Sánchez also made a surprise allusion during his speech to supporters of the 15-M movement of indignados (literally, “indignants”), those angered by government-imposed austerity measures who in May 2011 took over Madrid’s Plaza del Sol in a massive demonstration against political corruption and cuts to social spending. Despite the 15-M movement having sparked the separate formation in 2014 of the PSOE’s leftwing rival Podemos, Sánchez specifically asked 15-M supporters to back the Socialists, saying his re-election with the votes of PSOE grassroots militants along with policy and structural changes enacted at the weekend party congress showed that the party has reformed itself from within and is now committed to a “serious, rigorous and ambitious” push from the political left to reshape Spanish society.

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

► Read More in English at The Irish Times …

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