Andalusian premier’s bow-out decision hampers Socialist Party’s plans for internal debate

Regional leader tells assembly that he will not run as a candidate in 2016

José Antonio Griñan, speaking on Tuesday.
José Antonio Griñan, speaking on Tuesday.PACO PUENTES (EL PAIS)

In an unexpected move destined to have consequences not only for Andalusia but also the Socialist Party as a whole, José Antonio Griñán has decided to open the way up for his succession as the party’s candidate for the regional premiership.

At 67, and just 15 months after hanging on to power against the odds by forming a coalition with the United Left after the Popular Party won the most seats in Andalusian elections, Griñán has reached the conclusion that the time is ripe to prepare his exit from public life after a political career spanning three decades.

After the news filtered out on Tuesday that he would not seek to renew his mandate, Griñán made the announcement during Wednesday’s state of the region debate. “The regional premiership needs to be periodically renewed,” he said towards the end of his speech. “I have been premier for four years and my wish is to limit myself to two mandates. I will not be a candidate again.”

Saying he would continue to serve until the end of the current legislature, Griñán also proposed that the Socialist Party pass a regulation to limit Andalusian premiers to two terms of office.

His conviction of the need for generational renewal, coupled with factors such as the damage done to his reputation by the recent ERE layoff scam in the region, has led to Griñán accelerating a process that was planned to gradually develop over the course of the current legislature.

It is a wise decision, but it will not affect the schedule" Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba

The regional branch of the Socialist Party is keen to resolve the matter of his replacement as candidate for the Andalusian premiership as soon as possible. The party is planning to call primary elections for July, even though there are still three years to go until the next regional elections in 2016.

The name preferred by Griñán’s team is Susana Díaz, the powerful regional cabinet chief and Socialist Party secretary general in Seville. The 39-year-old has spent a frenetic last few weeks meeting provincial party groups.

Griñán’s move also threatens to upset the schedule of events planned by the national Socialist leadership, impacting on the July 6 Territorial Council, where the party’s 17 barons are due to thrash out a pact on their new national model, with the Catalan sovereignty debate set to loom large, a key Policy Conference in October, and the need to resolve the debate on primaries to choose the party’s next general election candidate.

Speaking at a meeting on European issues in Brussels on Wednesday, Socialist leader Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba on Wednesday called Griñán’s decision “wise” but stressed it would not affect the party’s schedule.

The Andalusian leader and his team are aware that their decision to instigate a political renewal in the region could also put pressure on Rubalcaba, who is of the same generation as Griñán.

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