TOWN HALL FIASCO

Embattled Socialist leader kept in the dark over damaging censure vote motion

Rubalcaba not aware of goings-on in Ponferrada town hall, according to party number two

PSOE secretary general Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba speaking in Valencia.
PSOE secretary general Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba speaking in Valencia.MANUEL BRUQUE (EFE)

The Socialist Party's Waterloo could be a town called Ponferrada. The fallout from the fiasco that saw a Socialist vote of no confidence in the Popular Party mayor, backed by an independent convicted of sexual harassment, has resulted in the national opposition having no voice in the municipality's administration after Samuel Folgueral, who assumed office on Friday, and seven deputies turned in their party membership to remain in power. It has also lent weight to those voices within the party questioning the leadership of Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba.

The party leader had no knowledge of the nature of the pact in Ponferrada, according to the Socialist upper echelon. His number two, Elena Valenciano, was in the loop but did not inform her boss and also failed to exercise her authority over party number three, Óscar López, who has assumed full responsibility and on Monday offered his own head to Rubalcaba.

The Socialist leader has admitted that the affair is the result of "error upon error." Rubalcaba's inner circle sought solace in the fact that the final word of the leader of the opposition had been heeded: Folgueral is no longer a PSOE member. However, Rubalcaba's veto on the operation came 24 hours after the stable door had slammed shut, even though it had been common knowledge in the party for two weeks.

"It's true, we've put out foot in it," said party sources. "But we will rectify the situation. The important thing was that the mayor resigned or left the PSOE: and he left the PSOE."

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