Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba on Thursday unveiled a restructuring of the opposition hierarchy in an attempt to steer the party through a series of institutional setbacks. As expected, the Socialist leader invested greater power in his number two, Elena Valenciano, while at the same time diminishing the duties of organizational secretary Óscar López.
López proffered his resignation in the wake of the Ponferrada affair, where the party ending up losing control of the Socialist group in the fallout from a censure motion. Samuel Folgueral, who was the Socialist leader in Ponferrada, subsequently became mayor of the Castilla y León town with the support of an independent councilor convicted in 2002 of sexual harassment.
The furor caused by the motion to oust Popular Party mayor Carlos López Riesco reverberated through the party ranks when Folgueral said the leadership had known about the ploy for weeks. He and seven deputies handed in their party cards rather than step down. In order to push through his plans, Rubalcaba sought the support of Andalusia premier José Antonio Griñán, head of the largest regional federation.
The Socialist leader also quelled a backlash in Galicia over the election of a regional secretary general in June, reaching an accord with incumbent Pachi Vázquez to name aspirants to Congress on the same lists as candidates for the top regional post. Normally lists are closed, meaning activists cannot vote directly for their preferred candidate.
Rubalcaba announced that former cabinet secretary in the Zapatero administration, Ramón Jáuregi, would return to the party hierarchy. Carmen Morán, equality spokeswoman, and César Luena, secretary general in La Rioja, were also promoted to the executive committee. Rubalcaba has now to rebuild bridges with the Catalan Socialists, who defied orders in Congress over the region's right-to-decide vote.