Citing the need for a generational change and acknowledging the political fallout from a corruption scandal that has rocked his government, Socialist José Antonio Griñán officially stepped down as premier of the Andalusia region on Tuesday. He is expected to be replaced by Susana Díaz.
At a press conference after handing in his resignation, Griñán said he wanted to preserve the regional government from the “erosion” it had suffered from the abuses committed through labor force adjustment plan (ERE) fund set up by the Andalusian administration to help companies slim down and meet severance costs. A judge is currently conducting an investigation into the fund, which paid out large sums of money to people who were not entitled to compensation. Griñán said the case had monopolized the political debate.
“The ERE case is a serious matter, which we cannot pass over lightly,” Griñán said. “We cannot ignore the damage it has done to the image of the government and the very serious offense it has caused to so many people in need.” The 67-year-old Griñán defended his honesty in the matter, saying that “my personal wealth is the same as it was four years ago, and has always been made known to the people of Andalusia.”
Despite his departure as premier, Griñán will hold onto his position as secretary general of the Andalusian branch of the Socialist Party (PSOE), the main opposition in the national Congress, and chairman of the group’s federal organization. He is also expected to represent Andalusia in the Senate.
The ERE case is a serious matter, which we cannot pass over lightly”
His likely successor in Seville is 39-year-old Susana Díaz, who is currently the chief of the premier’s office and regional equality commissioner. Díaz was the only candidate for primaries to replace Griñán after he decided not to see out his term, meaning that no vote was eventually taken. The executive committee of the Andalusian branch of the PSOE is expected to propose Díaz as Griñán’s replacement, allowing her to become the first woman premier in Andalusia, which has been in the hands of the Socialists for the past 31 years.
Griñán became premier in April 2009, replacing Manuel Chaves, who opted to join the Cabinet of then-Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. At the time, he was the region’s economy commissioner. Griñán was re-elected premier in regional elections held in March 2012. Fifteen months later, he announced he would not be standing for re-election in elections slated for 2016 and in July of this year announced he would be standing down as premier at the start of September.
The Socialists in Andalusia have presented Díaz’s arrival as premier as an “historic change” in the region that will usher in “deep” institutional and economic reforms.
The opposition Popular Party (PP) in the region, which won more votes than the PSOE in the March 2012 polls, has called on the Socialists to hold early elections.