Spain’s Socialist leader survives party ‘coup’ attempt

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 September, 2016, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 September, 2016, 11:37pm

Spain’s Socialist party was hit by a “coup” attempt on Wednesday with half of its leadership quitting in a bid to oust leader Pedro Sanchez and unblock the country’s political deadlock.

But while Sanchez remained silent, his ally and party number two Cesar Luena told reporters the 44-year-old remained firmly in place.

Tricks and coups don’t have their place here. The Socialist party leader is its secretary general, and the PSOE’s secretary general ... is Pedro Sanchez
Party number two Cesar Luena

The Socialists (PSOE) have for months been wracked by internal dissent over Sanchez’s leadership during Spain’s nine-month political stalemate, as rival parties fail to agree on a government following two inconclusive elections.

The party took a drubbing in two weekend regional polls, scored historically low results in December general elections, and in a repeat vote in June as voters flocked to other upstart parties.

“Seventeen resignations ... were handed in today,” a party spokesman said.

With two separate, earlier resignations, this takes the number of party executives that have quit to 19 out of 35.

Under party rules, according to Luena, an extraordinary meeting of grassroots members must now be called to elect a new executive, and they will also decide on whether they want their leader to remain.

“Tricks and coups don’t have their place here. The Socialist party leader is its secretary general, and the PSOE’s secretary general – elected by party members – is Pedro Sanchez,” Luena said.

As Spain’s political paralysis drags on, some within the PSOE want the party to use its 85 parliamentary seats to help unblock the situation and allow a right-wing coalition government to emerge by abstaining in the necessary vote of confidence.

That, they argue, would then help avoid a third round of elections and the party could go into opposition and build up strength again.

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But instead the Socialists voted against such a coalition government led by acting conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy earlier this month, prompting it to fail. Sanchez is now trying to form his own coalition with Podemos, the anti-austerity party that wants to replace it as the country’s main left-wing force.