Socialists stick by leader despite heavy electoral defeats

No question of Rubalcaba’s “resignation” raised at emergency meeting after Basque and Galician polls

Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba still has the support of the group despite the heavy setback in regional elections in Galicia and the Basque Country, the party’s number two, Elena Valenciano, said Monday.

The Socialists’ standing committee of the federal executive met on Monday to analyze the outcome of Sunday’s poll in which the party saw its representation in the Basque parliament fall from 25 to 16 members and likewise in Galicia from 25 to 18 seats.

“Rubalcaba’s resignation did not come up,” Valenciano said. The former interior minister under Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was named party head eight months ago after Zapatero decided not to stand in the general elections held in November, which were won by the conservative Popular Party.

Valenciano said the party must do more to “re-establish ties with progressive sectors” but ruled out “cosmetic or superficial changes.” She said a meeting of the full executive committee would be held the following Monday, with this to be followed by gatherings of the territorial and federal committees before the end of the year.

Valenciano said Rubalcaba would speak to journalists after next Monday’s meeting, adding that he is currently preparing for Tuesday’s debate on the draft state budget for 2013 in Congress.

“I don´t know if this is the worst situation facing the party in 35 years, but it certainly is very bad,” Valenciano said in response to comments by European Parliament Socialist lawmaker Juan Fernando López Aguilar.

Before Monday’s meeting began, López Aguilar said: “Spaniards no longer look to the PSOE as an alternative” to the right’s dominance.

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