REGIONAL POLITICS

Gómez tries to bring together Madrid Socialists after winning reelection

Three-term secretary general seeks to play down rumors of divisions within party Defiant leader seen as more progressive member of the Socialists

Tomás Gómez applauds at the end of the Madrid Socialist Party congress at the weekend.
Tomás Gómez applauds at the end of the Madrid Socialist Party congress at the weekend.GORKA LEJARCEGI (EL PAÍS)

Fresh from a reelection victory this weekend, Madrid Socialist Party (PSM) secretary general Tomás Gómez on Monday played down suggestions that a rebellious faction is growing within the party. During a news conference following a meeting of the party's executive committee, Gómez sought to quell rumors of divisions in the PSM.

On Saturday, the 43-year-old Gómez secured a third term as PSM secretary general, winning 59 percent of support and defeating rival Pilar Sánchez Acera by 200 votes. Gómez appointed three officials who supported Sánchez Acera to his new executive committee. When asked whether he made the appointments to try to integrate the PSM, Gómez said that there wasn't any need, because "there are no divisions within the PSM."

Gómez has been seen as a young upstart within the Socialist Party structure. Last year he defied the top party brass - including then-Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero - by refusing to step aside and allow former Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiménez to run for regional premier against Esperanza Aguirre of the Popular Party (PP).

The defiant Gómez refused to obey the Socialist leadership and to this day he is considered one of more progressive members of the party, with his eyes set on a national position.

A former mayor of Parla who was born in the Netherlands, Gómez has reiterated on many occasions the need for broad changes in the Socialist Party. He supported Carme Chacón for secretary general of the party, while Sánchez Acera backed Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba. After Rubalcaba won the Socialist leadership, after a bitter internal race that pitted major party figures against Chacón's supporters, Gómez immediately said that he would run for reelection as PSM secretary general.

Despite the notions of a party split, Gómez said that he was confident that Madrid voters "feel comfortable" with the new leadership.

When asked whether appointing three of Sánchez Acera's supporters to the national committee was a sufficient amount to close the divisions, Gómez played down any splits.

"What I have said in the past is that each person has his own concept of what integration is, and, evidently, whoever is in charge of putting together a list or team does it with his or her own criteria."

Now the Socialists are facing another important election later this month when voters in Andalusia go to the polls to elect the regional premier. Gómez said that he will campaign for José Antonio Griñán, the incumbent who faces a tough battle against the Popular Party (PP) opponent Javier Arenas, a former minister and party baron. The Socialists have governed Andalusia continuously for 30 years.

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