The Day in Spain #26: Rajoy – the happy wanderer

The talk today in Spain is about Rajoy’s ever-growing position of power in front of PSOE. After the socialist hara-kiri last weekend, which ended with Pedro Sanchez’s resignation, PSOE leaders know that the chances of doing well in a third round of elections are now close to nil, so they are now hoping that Rajoy allows them to abstain (although the president of Extremadura, PSOE’s Fernánde Vara has said, to everyone’s hilarity, that “PP should be scared of PSOE, which could beat them”).

On the other side of the table, Rajoy can now play cat-and-mouse with the socialists. Once again, Mariano’s famous strategy of “doing nothing-saying nothing” has worked wonders, as his enemies crumble on their own before his indifferece. Like Homer Simpson to Frank Grimes, he’s the happy wanderer, just merrily strolling through life and government without a worry in the world. What a guy.

"Yup, it's me again!"
“Yup, it’s me again!”

More headlines, below the line:


The Day in Spain #25: “PEDROOOOOO!”


It’s been PSOE day in Spain today. No other topic has made headlines (even with Puigdemont confirming a referendum on Catalan independence for September 2017).

It’s like a supernova event: we’re witnessing the implosion of one of Spain’s historical parties. The longest governing political group seems to be committing suicide, after its two halves (pro-establishment and pro-gressive) have started a total war which seems to be leading the socialists down the way of PASOK. But still, Pedro Sánchez is holding on, and while his chances are slim, he may still make it through the storm. What will become of his ship, that’s another story.

While everyone (me included) expected it to go this way:

“Susana Díaz sends her regards!”


It has been more like this:

“Susana Díaz sends her regards!”

So now it’s not clear whether Pedro Sánchez is still Secretary General or not. In any case, his group has proposed a schedule to bring the socialist bases to the polls and choose a new leader (vote would be on 23 October, and a Federal Congress would be held on 23 November).

Sánchez’s rivals says he has no legitimacy to propose anything. He has been referred to as the “former secretary general”. The rules seem to be on Sánchez’s side, though, as there is no explicit reference to him or his team having to step down, even after 17 members of the board resigned yesterday (which counting two previous resignations and the unrelated death of a member a time back, makes more than half of the executive organ).

All this responds to the dual nature of PSOE I’ve been talking about in previous posts. Internal tensions have finally ripped the party apart, but they’ve been there for a long time. PSOE has two types of voters:

  • Older, rural voters who are conservative but don’t identify with PP’s ultra-conservative, catholic tradition inherited directly from Franco). More prevalent in the South of the country.
  • Urban, younger voters who are progressive but think that other left-wing parties such as Podemos and IU are way too radical for the stable running of the country. More prevalent in Madrid and the Mediterranean coast.

Although the last (terrible) results of PSOE in Galicia and the Basque Country have helped accelerate the times, the true reason behind this rupture is the party’s nature.

Rajoy will reap the highest benefits: Broken PSOE’s party discipline, he will have it easy to collect the 11 abstentions he needs from among the party’s MPs.

The Day in Spain #25


  • Pedro Sanchez’s critics resign en masse from the party’s board to force the secretary general out of the leadership. Sanchez has cancelled a scheduled TV interview he had tonight, but it’s still unclear whether he’ll step down. According to internal rules, if more than half of the 38 strong board resign, a technical management board takes over. The critics are counting on two previous unrelated resignations and a board member who passed away. Walder Frey, you’re an amateur.
Pedro Sanchez walking into PSOE's headquarters today
Pedro Sanchez walking into PSOE’s headquarters today
  • Former socialist PM Felipe González wants Rajoy to rule, says Sanchez disappointed him. In the same interview, he cryptically said that PSOE never had such bad results in the Basque Country “after the things we did there”. Was he referring to State sponsored torture, murder and terrorism?

Catalan independence process

  • Catalan PM Carles Puigdemont expected to file a request with the central government for the celebration of an independence referendum. Central government not expected to reply.

The Day in Spain #20



The Day in Spain #15


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The Day in Spain #6