The Socialist Party's hemorrhage of votes goes on. Profiting from this bloodletting are: the center-right Popular Party, which so far has been coming in for no electoral punishment for its unjust policy of cutbacks; and various regional nationalist and leftist parties. If this goes on, the Greek-like drift of our political model may have unpredictable consequences.
For the time being the reaction to the new collapse, both inside and outside the party, has been to point the finger at Rubalcaba, and call for his resignation. Yet it does not appear that either the cause or the solution of the problem have much to do with him. True, the present leader of the PSOE, who looks like Captain Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean, is not the best option in terms of electoral marketing, while his rival in the last party convention, Carme Chacón, has an eye-pleasing look of Lara Croft. But it should be remembered that the obsession with photogenic personalities, apart from its obvious vanity, is in great part what caused Zapatero to bite the dust.
No, the fact is that just now Rubalcaba is the best head in the PSOE. But his strategy is wrongheaded. His real mission is not so much to staunch the party's vote hemorrhage, as to oversee its internal recasting. This is the Moses role I once recommended to him: the prophet who leads his party's march through the desert without himself reaching the promised land, its actual conquest being reserved to his successor (a role for which the defeated Patxi López now seems unsuited), who will by necessity have to belong to another generation.
The lost generation, unemployed or in low-paid jobs, has opted for revenge in the form of radical nihilism"
For the PSOE's existential crisis is threefold: political, generational and organizational. Political because, to recover its moral authority, it must start with serious, public self-criticism (abandoning its present acquiescent connivance with the technocratic and financial elites that are punishing the populations of southern Europe, making them pay the costs of the crisis) and then designing a strategy for struggle against the punitive austerity policy that is impoverishing its own electorate in the wage-earning middle classes. Organizational, because the Socialists have long since lost their capacity to relate to the people they are supposed to represent, ensconced as they are in their networks of oligarchy and cronyism, and unable to get a footing in the new associative tissue of the social networks. And generational, because the party's shrinking electoral base, forged after Franco's death in 1975, is aging, while the people born about that time have learned to look askance at the double standard practiced by the Socialists -- who talk of progress while practicing oligarchy -- and do not hesitate to punish them by abstention, regional secessionism, or the anti-system vote.
This is why the so-called lost generation, unemployed or precariously employed in low-paid jobs -- a situation perpetuated with the complicity of the Socialists -- has opted for revenge in the form of radical nihilism, the Socialists having left them to their fate. Hence the Indignation movement is aimed particularly at the Socialists, who "do not represent" them. Hence, too, the secessionist feelings on the rise in certain regions.
If the punishment of the Socialists goes on much longer, it may overturn the Spanish political system. For two reasons: first, the collapse of the Socialist Party, which is one of the two pillars of the system forged after Franco's death. A crisis also looms in the regional government system, which could break down in Catalonia and the Basque Country. It must not be forgotten that the Socialist Party has been the only one capable of governing in each and every one of the regions, being an indispensable foundation of political integration. If the PSOE withers, Spain itself looks likely to come apart at the seams.