Spanish Politics – Part 3: PSOE the Main Opposition “Socialist” Party

PSOE – Partido Socialista de Obrera España (Socialist Workers Party of Spain)

The PSOE is hardly a socialist party these days. Certainly not in the true Trotskyite meaning of the word. More like centre left, similar to the UK’s New-Labour. The more left wing voters in Spain already have other parties to fly their flag – namely the relatively new Podemos who recently joined forces with the older, established Izquierda Unida (United Left). The PSOE enjoyed obvious success immediately following the end of the Franco era. Since then PSOE has been one half of the two party establishment in Spain. Either the POSE or the Partido Popular (PP) has formed a government ever since.

A Party in Turmoil

Yet these are troubled times for the PSOE. Their leader has just resigned. The well-groomed Pedro Sanchez – he looks more like a film star than a politician – was forced to resign as more than half of the party’s executive committee had already resigned. So Sanchez, who once seemed destined for stardom, fell on his sword.

The party is divided. Sanchez did not want to form a coalition government with the ruling Partido Popular (PP). Instead wanting to try to win outright power for his own party. A noble gesture stance to take one would think. Not in the modern political arena however. His fellow MPs had other ideas the chance of a little slice of power was proving too much for many of them. The deal would have meant PSOE MPs voting with the PP on policies where they had similar objectives while abstaining on other policies. Effectively not supporting the PP on some issues but neither voting against them. A half-way house for a slice of the power pie.

Meanwhile there are others who thought that PSOE should try to form a minority government with Podemos (a more left wing party). Certainly a divided party right now.

A Possible Reason?

One probable reason that some in the PSOE want the deal with PP is that they do not want to see Spain go through a 3rd general election in 12 months. I suppose that is understandable as the country has been in limbo for over 9 months already. In any case they (all parties) have until 30th October to sort it all out otherwise the king has to dissolve parliament and call for another election. It’s the way it works. Constitutional (I think). So the PSOE need to get their act together quickly.

Shades of the UK Labour party’s in-fighting. Quite similar in many respects in that the parliamentary members seem out of touch with both their leader and the party’s grassroots members.

Closed to the Public…

I arrived at the PSOE offices not expecting to be allowed in and sure enough that was the case. The media circus was in full frenzy. All the main TV and radio networks were pitched up outside the front door waiting for the big payers to arrive for a meeting to decide the party’s future. Whenever a taxi pulled up the cameramen jostled for position only to discover that it was just more media employees with yet more cameras. This happened about a dozen times. Eventually a few known characters (not to me however) turned up and the media engulfed them like ants. It was quite funny for a while then it just got boring. So I left. I will return to the PSOE offices when this storm has calmed down.

While I was outside the PSOE offices I did manage to speak to a girl working for one of the TV stations. She did not seem to know exactly what all the party in-fighting was all about and she did not seem that interested either. Just doing her job. I suppose that tells its own story; modern politics versus the people.

Off to the Next Party

I left the PSOE in their own bubble and took the metro a few stops to the headquarters of the current “ruling” party – the Partido Popular.

To be continued…


The last leader of PSOE to win an election and become Prime Minister was José Zapatero (aka Zappy). While Pedro Sanchez may have the presidential looks for the big screen, this Zappy guy looks like Mr. Bean. I know it should not be all about looks and image but not only did this man look ridiculous he could not speak English. Amazing in this international world in which we live. Apparently he speaks French but who the hell cares about that? He won an election that took place only three days after the huge terrorist bombings in Madird, largely with the help of the then Prime Minister (the PP’s José Maria Aznar). A monumental PR blunder by Aznar effectively cost him the election. At the time Spain had been involved in the Iraq war in support of the USA and Aznar tried to blame the Basque terrorist group ETA for the bombings. It turned out that they were committed by muslim terrorists – probably as a reaction to Spanish involvement in Iraq. That gaff and the fact that many in Spain were already tired of the Iraq war involvement, allowed Zappy to win. He immediately withdrew Spain from Iraq yet, for some unexplained reason, remained entrenched in the equally unpopular war in Afghanistan – even sending more troops there! He also introduced same sex “marriage” and gave an amnesty to all illegal immigrants. I am sure that hardly anyone voted for either of those policies.

Incredibly this man won two terms in office while the more plausible Sanchez could not make a breakthrough. Such is politics and such is life…

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